Contractors hired by Cambodian land brokers bulldozed through four hectares of villagers’ crops in Poipet town on Monday, breaching a truce contract that protected the villagers’ land until January 1 next year.
According to the contract, the families residing on land claimed by 11 independent Cambodian land brokers would move to an area near their original Stung Bot village.
Instead, bulldozers greeted the families on Monday, destroying crops, three small sheds and the familys’ livelihood.
“The [landowners] destroyed four hectares of crops including mango, banana, acacia and other crops in order to prepare the land for sale,” said Dy Srey, a resident living in Stung Bot village. “Residents begged them to stop, but they ignored us.”
About 100 residents protested yesterday in Poipet town following the bulldozing.
Srey said that 108 families will file a letter today with Poipet town hall contesting the contract with the brokers.
Residents have resided on the land since 1997 and were issued land titles in 1998. However, the land brokers claim to have held a title since 1993.
The villagers are now demanding compensation and the right to remain on their land.
The protesters were peacefully prevented from continuing their march through Poipet town yesterday.
Town governor Ngor Mengchroun said the long-running land dispute had been solved before the bulldozing had reignited the problem.
“The broker wants to build a road on the 20 hectares of land,” Mengchroun said. “They do not want to destroy the crops; they just want to build on the land.”
Vorn Sareth, Stung Bot village chief, said the act of bulldozing crops was in breach of the previously determined contract.
The land brokers could not be reached for comment yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Phak Seangly at firstname.lastname@example.org