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Hundreds block road in Kratie land protest

Mititary police arrested a man yesterday during a protest that saw more than 300 villagers from Kratie’s Snuol district block national road 76 for more than four hours over a case of alleged land grabbing, villagers said.

The villagers from Pi Thnou commune are embroiled in a dispute with the Dai Nam company and have seen no progress since being promised a resolution by Environment Minister Mok Mareth in January.

“We just want to get a resolution from the authorities,” said 26-year-old Mom Hai, who took part in the protest yesterday.

He said military police arrested 58-year-old Sles Soet yesterday, but released him a short time later.

On Monday, military police had arrested 42-year-old villager activist Noiy Noeun, he added.

Sles Soet, was arrested by military police at about 8am and detained until 3pm, he told the Post yesterday.

Eighteen military police descended on him in the morning, accusing him of inciting the Pi Thnou villagers to protest against the Dai Nam company, Sles Soet said.

“I did not incite villagers to protest, they protested by themselves because they are victims of three companies that have come to take over their land,” Sles Soet said.

The three companies villagers accuse of illegally clearing their land are the Dai Nam Company, Sovann Vuthy Co Ltd and Samnang Angkor Company.

The companies accuse the villagers of illegally living on their land.

“I told the military police that those villagers were recognised by Prime Minister Hun Sen, and I have a letter to confirm to show to them,” Sles Soet said.

“I also swore that if those villagers were not living in the disputed area, that I would happily be taken away to prison.”

Snuol district deputy governor Men Vanna said that the people protesting were not the same ones who had been promised a resolution by government officials.

“They are not people who live permanently in that place, they are from Mondulkiri, so it is very hard for us to find the resolution for them,” Men Vanna said.

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