HUNDREDS of families in Ratanakkiri province have asked rights group Adhoc to intervene, saying local authorities in Bakeo district’s Laminh commune are illegally forcing them from their homes.
Village representative, Ek Orm, 52, said that authorities were forcing villagers to relocate to make way for a number of government buildings and commercial projects slated for the land and accused authorities of bulldozing their homes and crops.
“We are all poor, living and working off our plantations. We do not want to relocate; we want to stay in the same place,” said Orm.
A statement released by Adhoc says that villagers have been living in the disputed area since 1999. A petition from 218 families will be submitted to provincial authorities requesting a social land concession
Military and police forces allegedly destroyed villagers’ water containers, rice pots, plates and tents last November, according to Orm.
Laminh commune police chief Men Ren denied the allegations. “These villagers are living on state land anarchically. They do not have any legal documents. They cause social disorder and argument,” he said.
Laminh commune chief Pen Sophun said authorities need to build a new district hall, hospitals, supermarkets and parks.
“[The villagers] were not forced to relocate to the forest,” he added, saying that they were given land.
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