Date: 10-13 June, 2015
Place: Pursat Province
As part of MIRO’s Statelessness project, MIRO’s staff went on a four day trip to the Pursat Province from June 10th to June 13rd to research the situation regarding legal documentation with Khmer Krom communities and the local authorities. The purpose of the trip was to investigate and record the concerns and problems faced by ethnic Khmer Khrom communities in the Pursat Province, including the impact of the legal status of the community. The trip included stops at two ethnically Khmer Krom communities in the Bakarn district, Kampang village and Kamport Ang village.
Implementer: Two MIRO staff members from Phnom Penh, Mr. Noun Sovanrith and Mr. Phom Ravy, one local MIRO provincial staff, Mr. Morm Norm, and two MIRO interns, Ms. Lauren Schoenster and Mr. Khorn Sokheng.
Activities: MIRO provincial staff, Mr. Nourn Norm, had contacted and informed the local authorities and the target group a week before the research trip planned by Phnom Penh staff occurred. On the first day of arrival to the Pursat province, MIRO’s team from Phnom Penh conducted a small meeting with provincial staff in order to discuss about the research questionnaire, the provincial staff daily work and the target group’s situation. The next day MIRO started to conduct in-depth interview with 38 Khmer Krom respondents by going door by door at the Kampang village, Bakan district. Firstly, interviewers introduced MIRO’s project’s plan and purpose, followed up by MIRO’s staff. The interview process was facilitated by the Kampang village chief, from whom we were also able to get the resident’s data. On the third day of the trip, there were totally 30 Khmer Krom respondents be interviewed at Kamport Ang village, which is also located in the Svay Doun Keo commune in the Bakan district. The Khmer Krom respondents seemed very happy to give an interview, to share information about their difficulties to MIRO’s staff and to show their willingness to work with MIRO. On the last day of the trip, MIRO’s team went to Svay DounKeo commune office to get an interview from the commune chief. Svay DounKeo’s commune chief shared resident’s data and the situation of the commune which he governs. The commune chief showed his willingness to work with MIRO as well.
Respondents expressed many of their concerns when interviewed by MIRO’s team. All Khmer Krom families in the community have farmland and depends on the rice production for their living. Because of the weather change there hasn’t been raining as much as it is expected during this time of the year. There is no water for the rice farms and no water in the canals. Khmer Krom people are also worried about the discrimination from Khmer people who think that they are Vietnamese. Respondents are also concerned about their children’s future since many of them can’t go to school due to the fact that the school is distant from their houses and the transportation to school is unsafe. Additionally, the school building is very old, which makes students feel insecure during class, especially during heavy rain and thunderstorms.
All communities that were investigated reported that the vast majority of the residents were concerned about the safety of Khmer Krom children in regard to the school. Since the school is far from the community, the children usually get very tired after the school day when returning to their houses. The children usually go to school by bike or other transportation, and there have been accidents on the road involving the kids. There is a pagoda near the community, and some residents expressed their desire to set a school for the children in the pagoda area.
Challenges of the research trip
During the research trip to the Pursat province, there were some challenges in regard to the accommodation logistics, since the target groups are situated in a rural area far from the center where guesthouses are located. It was hard to find a guesthouse for the staff, and we had to stay around 15 km away from the target groups. The weather was very hot, which caused discomfort throughout the day. Additionally, since it is currently farming season, some Khmer Krom residents were working on their farms, which made it difficult to get an interview with them.
After the field research we concluded that members of all target groups continue to remain open and willing to work with MIRO in order to help support our efforts for improving the community’s opportunities and rights, as well as achieving a better living condition for Khmer Krom people. We found that the Khmer Krom residents are living in a remote rural area, far away from schools and health centers. Some Khmer Krom children can’t go to school because the school is very far from their houses. Moreover, the school building is in very poor condition, and Khmer Krom families are concerned about their children’s safety. Khmer Krom residents and the authorities want a new school in their community for the children. The local authorities also indicated their willingness to work with MIRO. MIRO will set further dates to analyze the feedback and gather additional legal research on how to best support the needs of these Khmer Krom communities, in order to be able to better address its Statelessness project plan.