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The Yali Falls dam, the largest dam yet built in the lower Mekong Basin, is causing severe impacts on local communities living downstream, including indigenous and ethnic minorities living along the Se San River Basin in Rattanakiri, Strung Treng and Kratie provinces, Northeast Cambodia. The majority of people in these provinces are highland people from diverse ethnic groups such as the Kreung, the Tampaun, the Kavet, the Brao, the Jarai, the Kachock and the Phnong. The Se San River, a tributary of Mekong River which originates in the central highland of Vietnam and flows into Cambodia, is the largest and most significant source of livelihood for the people in these provinces. This article focus on the indigenous environmental movement in Rattanakiri province, the ‘Se San River Protection Community Network’ (SPN), formed in 2001, to represent the rights and interests of indigenous and ethnic communities affected by the dam who demand compensation for damages. The movement is examined from anthropological perspective, focusing on the process by which the SPN gains power and legitimacy to access natural resources.
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