A GROWING number of families who were evicted from Kampong Thom’s Kraya commune earlier this month have opted to forgo the plots of land they were offered as compensation, describing as too restrictive a clause that would require them to live on the plots for five years, residents and rights workers said.
Hundreds of families were moved to a relocation site located 7 kilometres from Kraya commune after their homes were cleared to make way for a Vietnamese rubber company. In return, each was offered a 20-metre-by-40-metre plot of land and an additional hectare of land.
Nhem Sarath, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the number of families leaving the relocation site was on the rise, but he added that he could not provide a concrete estimate.
“We know about this trend, but we don’t know how many families have decided not to take the land because not all of them come to tell us,” he said.
But Sath Moeun, a 52-year-old military veteran and village representative, said he knew of more than 30 families who had left Kampong Thom to live with relatives in other provinces. He said he was planning to move to live with his brother in Prey Veng province, describing the compensation plot he was offered as “too small”.
Sok Chanta, 54, another veteran, said he did not believe the land-allocation process would be fair, and that he would not be able to afford the payment he thinks would be necessary to secure a satisfactory plot of land. Officials have denied that evicted families have been forced to pay anything for the compensation plots.
Santuk district Governor Pich Sophea said that he knew of only 25 families who had decided not to accept land compensation.
“They went back to their homeland in Kampong Cham, and the reason they didn’t want to get this land is because they wouldn’t be able to turn around and sell it. According to the rules, they have to stay there for five years before they can sell,” he said.