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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Group to report on land loss

Group to report on land loss

A PROMINENT civil society activist claims that the planting of border demarcation posts on the Vietnamese border has resulted in the loss of swathes of Cambodian territory in Prey Veng and Kampong Cham provinces.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Watchdog Council, made the claim following a trip by a CWC delegation to border areas yesterday, following local complaints about the loss of land.

“I have confirmed what the people have claimed,” he said yesterday. “I am not scared of someone suing me, because the posts were implanted on Khmer land.”

Rong Chhun said the CWC delegation visited border post 131 in Prey Veng’s Krabao commune, which he alleged was planted about 500-600 metres inside Cambodia’s legal territory.

The delegation also visited border post 125 in Kampong Cham’s Ponhea Krek district, which he claimed lay as much as  four kilometres inside Cambodia, ceding a Khmer pagoda, Wat Thnort, to Vietnam. He added that the position of posts 125 and 126 indicated that two Khmer villages had also been lost.

Rong Chhun said he will send the results of CWC’s findings to the government next week. He added that people often refrain from speaking about the land issue out of fear of a backlash from the authorities.

Ros Kin, 52, a villager living in Anlong Chrey village who claims to have lived in Ponhea Krek since the 1960s, said Wat Thnort used to lie inside Cambodia. In 1995, however, he said the area was occupied by the Vietnamese.

“The government says [land] has not been lost, but in fact, it is lost 100 percents,” he said. “I don’t know what to do, I am speaking the reality.”

The claims follow a year-long campaign by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party to expose alleged Vietnamese encroachments into Svay Rieng and Kampong Cham provinces. SRP president Sam Rainsy, currently living in self-exile, has been sentenced to 12 years jail on a series of charges stemming from the border campaign.

When contacted yesterday, Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, declined to comment in detail, saying that he will wait to see Rong Chhun’s report.

“Let him issue [his report] first … and I will speak after. I do not give importance to Rong Chhun,” he said.

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