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Jarai man exiled after he opposes land deal

Commune authorities in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district have allegedly banished a local resident for persisting with a lawsuit that accuses them of selling 500 hectares of community forest to two Cambodian developers for $300,000.

Romas Svang, who is a member of the ethnic Jarai minority, filed the suit in 2011. The 45-year-old said most villagers living near the forest received $200 to $300 for allowing developers to use the area.

About two weeks ago, he said, villagers and authorities gathered at a meeting to berate him for his recalcitrance.

“There were about 40 villagers who shouted at me at the meeting to dismiss me from the village, because they said that if I still live here, the whole village will have no solidarity anymore. I was scared, so my family and I decided to escape from the village at night for more than a week,” Svang said, adding that he received death threats.

Sev Hem, a community leader in Ten village, where Svang used to live, acknowledged that the villagers received money from authorities.

Adhoc provincial co-ordinator Chhay Thy said Svang contacted his organisation for help after the authorities wanted to evict his family.

Ya Tung commune chief Rocham Vin said 199 families had agreed to sell the land, and received the money.

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