“When Justice and Peace Kiss”
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Meun Ratanais from theCoalition of Cambodia Farmers Community (CCFC) (សសកក). He
has participated in Peace Bridges Organization (PBO) trainings three times for a total of 12
Mr. Ratana said that people in his community had many bad experiences with land grabbing
and other kinds of abuse by rich and powerful people. In the past, the community members
did not respond peacefully; they used violence against the powerful people. In order to
protect their land,they used wooden sticks, knives, axes, stones, and other weapons to commit
acts of violence against people from the private company who tried to take their land.
Ratana used to approve of the violence because he thought the land-grabbers deserved to be
treated in that way.
Since studying with PBO, Ratana believes that using nonviolence is better than violence to
address conflict. Ratana developed new knowledge, attitudes, skills, and habits (KASH) that
he has applied to helping others solve their community problems.
For example, he called together his community so that they could develop a plan and write a
petition. They sat down together and talked about ways to find better solutions to the land
dispute.Ratana told them about the lessons he learned from PBO. He told the community
people that “peace begins with me, individually.” He told them that using physical violence
often led to more problems, especially if they committed illegal activities. Using violence
could come with a high price: they could waste time, money, and even be arrested. It would
also affect their households. Ratana then taught them to fight for justice, address conflict, and
meet their needs by using nonviolent action rather than violence.
The community people gathered evidence of their land conflict and showed it to Ratana at a
community meeting. They showed that the land was their property and not the property of the
company. The community people would use the evidence for legal purposes in order to prove
their ownership in court.
Ratana said that the community members have dramatically decreasedtheir violence. Instead
of fighting with the company people, the community members talk to them and try to reach a
Ratana recently discovered that eight communities where he worked had success at solving
some of their conflicts. Ratana conducted peace trainings in the communities inKep, Kampot,
and Preah Sihanouk provinces. At least 50 community members participated in each of these
trainings, and a total of 100 households were impacted.
In those trainings, Ratana first taught people how to analyze conflict. He showed them how to
see the sources of conflict, the needs of the people involved, and their own needs. He also
taught about nonviolent ways to respond to conflict. He emphasized how to solve problems
by avoiding violence and using sufficient evidence. Those skills could be used to solve many
different kinds of conflicts, including those in families and communities, common
misunderstandings, and relationship issues between spouses.
Ratana also emphasized the “Peace begins with me” lesson. He said, “If we think good we
will do good, but if we think bad we will do bad.” He asked his participants to test their
comprehensive about the sources of conflict and other lessons. The participants also
answered follow-up questions about the lessons.
Ratana also trained nearly twenty households on topics such as domestic violence, peace
education, and legal lessons.
Ratana has made a lot of effort to help other people.His valuable efforts have helped
communities to effectively, efficiently, and nonviolently solve their problems. He has
especially helped them to work with local authorities to protect and guard their land while
working for a peaceful solution.