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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Activist set to probe encroachment

Activist set to probe encroachment

THE head of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions says his group will visit border areas in Kampong Cham province in order to investigate local complaints that land in the area has been ceded to Vietnam.

CCU President Rong Chhun said yesterday that he would travel later this month to the area around border demarcation post No 109, in Memot district’s Da commune.

“My stance will not change. I will go down to see the situation there at the end of this month. I will not be scared of facing the law because … I am doing it for the national interest,” Rong Chhun said.

Last week, more than 200 villagers from Da commune thumb printed a document accusing Vietnamese authorities of encroaching on their fields in Memot district.

A local representative said about 260 people had signed the complaint, which they planned to file to the National Assembly, civil society groups and the government’s Border Demarcation Committee.

Previous border visits by civil society groups and opposition lawmakers have been foiled by police, who have blocked access to Vietnam’s politically sensitive frontier.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, currently in self-exile overseas, has been sentenced to a total of 12 years in jail in connection with his own claim that Vietnam has encroached into parts of Svay Rieng province.

Sensitive region
Rong Chhun said that if he was blocked from visiting the border areas it would prove the government has something to hide.

“As a Khmer citizen, everyone has a right to visit the border,” he said, adding that his visit would not disturb current demarcation efforts.

“If we have a look by destroying, it is illegal. We will just go and have a look how they plant [the border posts],” he said.

But Var Kimhong, the senior minister in charge of border affairs, dismissed the allegation of Vietnamese border incursions in Memot district and warned that if Rong

Chhun visited the border without permission the authority would take action against his delegation.

“We will not allow him to go. They are planting demarcation posts, the experts are doing this work, why does he go to disturb them? What skill does Rong Chhun have to measure them?” Var Kimhong said.

He added, however, that visits to the border would be permitted once the demarcation efforts wind up.



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