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Land complaint filed

Land complaint filed

FOUR Preah Vihear villagers filed a complaint with rights group Adhoc yesterday, requesting help in gaining permission to farm 93 hectares of land the Provincial Forestry Administration barred them from last year.

The four complainants represent 65 families who have farmed the area in Kolen district since 2004, said Lor Chan, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc.

Villagers and provincial authorities received letters from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet last month asking the two sides to solve the problem, Chan said, but no solution has been reached.

“The situation of the land dispute in Preah Vihear is not better yet,” Chan said.

But he noted that Hun Sen’s student volunteers – who measure land for villagers in the provinces, which can help them gain land titles – have been in the area.

The complaint, along with villagers’ thumbprints, will be turned over to provincial authorities later this week, he said.

Huon Hay, one of the four villagers who filed the complaint, said villagers who farm the land have been unable to do the necessary work in preparation for the rainy season.

“Since last year, forestry officials have attempted to seize our tractors when we try to farm,” Hay said. “We are threatened with imprisonment if we farm the land.”

When reached, provincial Forestry Administration director In Phomara said his phone did not work and hung up.

Provincial Deputy Governor Un Chenda said he never saw a letter from Hun Sen’s Cabinet, but that the provincial Forestry Administration needed the land for use as a plant nursery.

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