Land rights acrimony in AusAID Asian project

A TAXPAYER-FUNDED development project is mired in controversy after the Cambodian government launched a crackdown against land rights organisations critical of the compulsory resettlement of families. The Cambodian government has cautioned a small group of foreign organisations against stirring up unrest among those being forced off their land and has banned land rights organisation Sahmakum Teang Tnaut from operating for five months. AusAID first assistant director general Richard Moore told The Australian the agency was concerned and had co-written a strongly-worded letter with the Asian Development Bank to the Cambodian government on August 17. AusAID has contributed $US21.5 million ($20.3m) towards the $US141m project to renovate Cambodia’s decrepit rail system, with the Asian Development Bank providing $US84m in concessional loans. The Cambodian government is responsible for resettling and compensating people who are forced off their land