After hours of negotiation yesterday, a development company agreed to compensate a group of ethnic Jarai people in Ratanakkiri province $4,000 for accidentally destroying part of their ancestral grave site.
On January 3, villagers in O’Yadav’s Paknhai commune, near the Vietnamese border, were aghast when they found bulldozers rumbling over the grounds of a local cemetery.
They chased the bulldozers and detained two drivers, who were later released by local authorities after it was determined they had no idea whose land they were clearing.
Officials later brokered a meeting with the company, Day Dong Yoeung, which has a 4,000-hectare economic land concession to build a rubber plantation in the area.
The company had bargained the villagers down to $4,000 from an initial demand of $10,000, Paknhai commune police chief Poy Chroch said.
“$10,000 is too much to pay. It is not proper, and the company doesn’t have the money to pay them,” Chroch said.
Also included in the deal were commodities needed for the traditional ceremonies villagers said they wanted to hold to pray for the spirits of the 1,500 graves that were disturbed or ruined during the bulldozing.
After the money is delivered at the end of this week, company representatives will track down the requested two buffalo, two pigs, 60 litres of wine, two jars of local wine and two chickens.
Village representative Chhay Thi said the compensation was acceptable to recoup the loss. but said the authorities and police should send the case to court because the graveyard was considered state property.