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Families in Ratanakkiri file ELC complaint

Villagers sit in a section of forest that was cleared by a company in Ratanakkiri last week. Licadho
Villagers sit in a section of forest that was cleared by a company in Ratanakkiri last week. Licadho

Families in Ratanakkiri file ELC complaint

More than 220 ethnic Tompuon families in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district yesterday filed a complaint to rights group Adhoc over a 2,000-hectare land dispute against an economic land concession.

The ELC’s 9,000 total hectares were granted to Chinese company Jing Zhong Ri Co Ltd in 2011, and in 2014, local tycoon Roth Sokhorn became a major stakeholder in the concession and began clearing land on the 2,000 hectares that Tompuon villagers claim as their own.

The community said it already lost half of their land to Sokhorn’s cashew plantation and more clearing is on the way.

“If we lose the 2,000 hectares, we will lose our farmland and our identity,” said Touy Nheb, one of the villagers’ representatives.

He said that authorities visited the site last week but did not attempt to solve the dispute with the company. The villagers then turned to Adhoc for help.

Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said he will send the villagers’ complaint to both the National Assembly and the prime minister’s cabinet.

The company wasn’t immediately available for comment yesterday; but Nou The, the acting district governor, said the company had agreed to allot the villagers another 2,000-hectare plot but that villagers were insisting on keeping their own.

“The company, authority and community are negotiating to resolve the problem,” he said, noting that the company has stopped clearing.

However, villagers maintained that the company has cleared 30 hectares in the area over just the past few weeks.

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