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Families fear eviction in dispute with Try Pheap

Twenty-three families in a village in Pursat province currently embroiled in a land dispute with a company owned by tycoon Try Pheap have claimed that authorities are putting pressure on locals in an attempt to quash the issue.

The families, from Sangkum Thmey village in Veal Veng district, trace their roots in the area to the Khmer Rouge era, when their relatives were moved and integrated there.

However, the Pheap-owned MDS Import Export Co has claims to more than 4,400 hectares in the area.

Resident Prak Sophal, 60, said she and her fellow residents fear that the authorities, who have called into question the people’s ownership and the authenticity of their certificates, will not allow them to return to their lands.

So far, seven families have provided “fact sheets” on their claims and have taken oaths in spiritual shrines to ensure their authenticity.

“We want our farmland at the old place,” she said, adding that she was frightened she might be relocated.

Phuong Sothear, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the authorities are simply trying to determine if the locals participating in the dispute really have a claim to the land.

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