Trapped In A Pagoda…
Some 50 villagers from Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Svay Rieng and Pailin, entangled in a land issue an who are staying at Wat Chas, were prevented from crossing the gate of the pagoda by an important and rather disproportionate force of combined riot police and municipal security guards when they wanted to march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house.
Four members of the Boeung Kak lake community who showed up in support of the villagers were promptly arrested and evacuated to the police station.
Two villagers who felt unwell were carried away by LICADHO for medical treatment.
Mr Khleang Hout, governor of Chroy Changvar, came to hear the complaints of the villagers. How the governor of Chroy Changva can resolve land disputes in far-off provinces will probably remain a mystery.
To Be Dammed…
The construction of the Sesan2 dam in Stung Treng province (Northern Cambodia) is well under way and supposed to be finished by 2016-17, threatening the livelihood of 5 villages.
For sure Cambodia needs dams to fuel its economic growth. For Banlung city alone the power needs jumped from 1 Mw in 1998 to 7 Mw today. That it has to be done at the expense of people living along the shores of the Sesan and the Srepok rivers or anyone else is questionable. The monetary compensation policy for those whose houses and land will be submerged is rather difficult to assess: there are very different views on the price of land. The plan at the relocation site does not respond to the needs of the villagers: a plot of land of 5 meter by 20 meter is insufficient to build a house, fit the cattle, chicken, tractor, boat engine, cart and other usual paraphernalia found on a farm. The quality of the allocated 5 hectare of farmland is uncertain and might not be suitable to grow the rice.
The impact on the fish population for sure will be felt by the relocated villagers, but also by those living downstream: it is estimated that the planned dams on the North Cambodian rivers will diminish the number of fish by 9%.
The ecological impact, even before the Sesan2 is finished, is already considerable. The future reservoir for the dam is being cleared of all its precious timber, much to the benefit of those who will trade further down the line but also to the villagers themselves who are scrambling to make big money. The atmosphere in Srekor village has totally changed. From a quiet village with some buffaloes chewing on hay, it turned into a showcase of the latest 2700 $US motorbike.
So what is the real price of those dams going to be? The purely economical one or the one integrating the human and ecological impact? Will it only be the one paid for wages, bags of cement and steel (which in normal circumstances would be 1.2 $US per potential Mw and seems to be more like 2.1 $US for the Sesan2), or the one where the company, the Cambodian government, the villagers and, yes, even the fish will be satisfied?
What is the real price for development anyway? Clearly, human intellect, if it wasn’t obscured by greed, be it in Cambodia or in any other country, could find decent answers, provide satisfying solutions.
Photographing Ebola in Liberia
John Moore, a senior staff photographer from Getty Images, is covering the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
In the New York Times, he writes:
I have worked in high-risk environments with some frequency in my career, but instead of a flak jacket and helmet, this time I brought anticontamination suits, including coveralls, masks, goggles, rubber gloves and boot covers, all of which are disposable after a single use in places like Ebola isolation wards. I stocked up on antiseptic gel, wipes and sprays. I also brought rubber boots, which were lent to me by my father-in-law, a retired journalist who is now a fisherman. He said I could keep them.
Here in Liberia, I wash my hands in chlorinated water at the entrance to most buildings, dozens of times a day, whether I have gloves on or not. Because Ebola is not airborne but is rather transmitted through bodily fluids, it’s important not to touch your face after being in contaminated areas. We tend to touch our faces many times per day without realizing it. I’m trying hard to stay safe.
The Times has a gallery of Moore’s images here.
Bonus: Yesterday, NPR interviewed Moore about an incident in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, where protestors attacked a quarantine center and forced its patients to leave the facility. Moore tells NPR that “a fair number of people… believe that the Ebola virus and the epidemic is a hoax, that it’s not real after all, and it’s a way for the Liberian government to bring in foreign money.”
Image: John Moore wears his “personal protectuve equipment” before joining a Liberian burial team that was a removing the body of an Ebola victim from her home, via the Daily Mail. The Mail also has a gallery of Moore’s work. Select to embiggen.
Today is World Photo Day – celebrating the anniversary of 19th August 1839, when the French government bought the patent to the Daguerreotype photographic process and announced the invention as a gift “Free to the World”. Though not the first photographic process invented it was practical for its time and helped to spread the idea of photography around the world.
Caption:circa 1845: Daguerreotype portrait of French painter and photographic pioneer Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (1789 - 1851). He founded the Diorama in Paris in 1822 and helped to develop the process of imprinting pictures on metal plates using sunlight, leading to the discovery of the daguerrotype process in 1839. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Sabatier-Blot/George Eastman House/Getty Images)
Caption:LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Daguerreotype images from the 1800s are displayed in the Vintage Room of historic photographs in the Hulton Archive on May 13, 2011 in London, England. The comprehensive archive contains pictures created at the birth of photography in the early 1800s and covers every era and event through to the 21st century. Staff at the Hulton Archive are employed on a wide range of jobs including: conservation, retouching, hand-printing, scanning and archiving. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)