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Land Dispute: Authorities harvesting evictees’ rice fields

Land Dispute
Families who fled evictions in Oddar Meanchey province say the same authorities who burned their homes to the ground are now harvesting their vacant rice fields. “Next year, we will die because we will not have rice to feed ourselves,” said Huoy Chhuoy, who represents 214 affected families. About 70 families fled to Phnom Penh after their houses were razed last month. The provincially sanctioned evictions were the result of a long-simmering dispute over some 1,500 hectares of land between the villagers and the Angkor Sugar Company, owned by Ly Yongphat, a senator in the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Police and government officials said they only harvested the rice to help the villagers. “We harvested people’s rice, and we will share it with them,” said Samraong district Governor Thon Nol. However, authorities will sell some of the rice to pay for the cost of renting a machine to harvest the crops, he added. As well, only people who “live on the land” will receive the rice, he said. “We do not have any plan to share the rice with people who run away.”

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