Unreported World Review: Everything Has Its Price

March 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

352cambodiaUNREPORTED WORLD:SELLING THE KILLING FIELDS, Friday 20th March, Channel 4, 7.35pm Alert me

Another dose of misery for a Friday night, as this week’s Unreported World takes us to Cambodia; a country whose poorest people are being evicted from their homes in centralised slums in order for their land to be sold on to property developers.

A rapid increase in tourism has been the catalyst for the transformation of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, into a modern city and a focal point for foreign investment.

Much of the action focuses on the plight of the Dey Krahorm slum, the value of which has trebled in recent years regardless of the global recession. Having been offered compensation most of the inhabitants chose to take the money and run, with a hardy few determined to stand their ground, preventing developers taking over with brute force. Far from being an easy task, many have suffered brutal beatings and abuse from government-hired goons. One woman was hurt so badly she could “feel her organs moving?.

Similar evictions occurred both on rural farmland and on the tourist-friendly beach areas. In one instance military police invaded a village with no prior warning, shot at villagers, set houses on fire and quickly erected a fence around the property which read, “For Sale?. These heinous abuses of human rights have even resulted in court hearings in favour of the dispossessed villagers, which the government have simply ignored. The situation is appalling, but again, as with the first episode, unless this programme is connected to some form of Amnesty International campaign, the cynic in me fears that this message will fall on deaf ears.

minefield of civil liberties, the displaced “refugees? are living in the most squalid of conditions, having to wade through filthy streams and defecate in plastic bags. Knowing the fate that awaits him, Vichet, the village representative of Dey Krahorm, was forced to watch his village being flattened from a pokey hotel window.

Jenny Kleeman’s reporting style was definitely preferable to Nima Elgabir, despite her slightly dubious haircut and affiliation with the Brian Harvey School of Cap Wearing. I was sickened by the fact that, as Kleeman puts it, in Cambodia, “nothing is sacred? and even an extermination camp, a symbol of the country’s oppression under the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge, had been sold to a Japanese investor to be transformed into a tourist attraction.

Another shocking documentary which encourages us privileged individuals to appreciate what we have, even in an economic downturn. It’s humbling to realise that at least in the UK, freedom is truly free.

Nina says:

Yes it’s true and sad, Cambodia is still so corrupted and they are clearing ‘slum’ villages around the Angkor complex too so that tourists see only a ‘good’ picture. I can’t believe they sold the Killing Fields! It’s such a beautiful country with such a sad history…