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LAND DISPUTE: Besieged commune faces eviction

LAND DISPUTE
Kampong Thom authorities are poised to evict villagers from a besieged commune on Wednesday after violence flared in a bitter land dispute last week, provincial Governor Chhun Chhorn said Monday. On November 16, villagers from Kraya commune in Santuk clashed with military police after torching vehicles owned by a Vietnamese rubber company. Two people were hospitalised, and seven have been arrested. A further 13 are still being sought by police. Referring to the clash, Chhun Chhorn warned that further violence would not be tolerated. “We will fight back,” he said. The dispute hinges on an 8,000-hectare plot of land that was awarded to rubber company Tin Bean in an economic land concession in 2007. Villagers have been offered alternative land but say they can’t trust the authorities. Prom Saroth, one of the villagers who has lived under seige since police cordoned off the commune last week, said the offer was rejected because it had not been made clear where the new plots were located. “We will not leave. We are afraid they are playing a trick on us,” he said.

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