Since 1966, in the midst of the Vietnam War era, Doung’s family have lived and worked on the land in Tbeng Commune. They never had land title deeds, as the Cambodian government refused to issue any. Instead, in the 1990s they sold the land to multi-national corporates and Doung’s community of homes and livelihoods were ripped away. If they fought it, they would have been subjected to violence and possible imprisonment, or worse.

Cord’s programme ‘Strengthening Defence for Human Rights’ (SDHR) in Cambodia, support people like Doung, who have little education and live in rural areas, to voice concerns and defend land. By him working together with a group adds strength to their voice, and with training and workshops they are able to collate evidence and even get legal help.

Doung’s motivation is his passion for his community and for social justice. 70% of people were in the same situation as his family and he felt compelled to contribute to fight for their rights. At first he didn’t know about rights, he just knew he had to fight for what was his.

With Cord’s support, he realised it wasn’t a choice between silence of violence, there was another peaceful way. But it’s still risky. He’s received threat and hid in the forest for 6 months where his wife would bring him food in a dead of night.

“I was a victim of social injustice, I was going to lose my land, home, the food we eat, income – everything. I knew I had to fight for my rights, but I didn’t understand what they were until now.”