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Battambang families seek land-dispute aid

Representatives of more than 300 families in Battambang province’s Bavel district yesterday urged government officials to intervene in a land dispute with provincial authorities and a businessman.

Representative Thuy Ry said  the 305 families had lived on the 3,638 hectares of land in Ampil Pram Doeum commune since 1999 and that businessman Chea Ny had violently and forcefully stolen land from families in 2005 and 2009.

Last September, provincial authorities had taken additional land from residents.

Authorities said the land was to be used as a social land concession for veterans and their families, but villagers are accusing them of corruptly collaborating with Chea Ny to profit from selling the area.

“We would like the Battambang authorities to give back the land they confiscated from the people,” Thuy Ry said.

In December, about 50 villagers clashed with a provincial land management committee that had come to measure the residents’ plots for the social land concession.

During the melee, villagers confiscated three guns and set fire to two bulldozers, three police cars and four police motorcycles.

After the incident, officials claimed the combative villagers had been hired by Chea Ny, but yesterday the villagers told the Post they were not hired and Chea Ny was actually part of the provincial team that was measuring the land.

“We were not hired by other people. We did violence because authorities are corrupt and taking over our land,” Thuy Ry said.

Bavel district governor Tim Dary confirmed the plan to use the villagers’ land as a social land concession.

“If they have five hectares, we will give them three hectares and keep two for the social land concession,” he said.

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