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Land spat over health centre

Locals in Preah Vihear province’s Tbeng Meanchey district accused district officials of threatening them for refusing to give up their rice paddies for a new health centre and other government works.

“District officials warned me that if I don’t agree to give the district land to build a health centre, they will file a complaint against me at court,” said Roth Thy, from Bosthom village in Brame commune.

“If we give them [our rice paddies], how can we feed our ten family members?” Roth Thy said. The land has been in his family since 1979, and under his ownership since 1990, he said.

Hor Neat, the provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said he received a complaint yesterday from 24 families seeking intervention.

District governor Pang Yeat said it was the locals who had invaded state land, not the reverse, and denied confiscating land being used for rice.

“We need some land for building gardens, roads, a health centre and district offices,” he said. “We just confiscated the land that is not being used for rice, the forest land that has been cleared in recent years.”

Pang Yeat said local authorities are working to find replacement land for villagers.

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