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Land title deals for former Khmer Rouge in question

Former Khmer Rouge cadres who in return for laying down their weapons and swearing allegiance to the Cambodian government were granted plots of land in what is now Kampot province say local authorities aren’t respecting the deal.

Representatives of 80 families in the province’s Chhouk district told the Post yesterday that land officials are staking out the area to make room for newcomers, even after they submitted proof of ownership documents.

“The authority in Kampot’s Chhouk district doesn’t recognise our land possession,” said Touch Hoeung, an ex-cadre who lived in the area from 1975 until 1996, when he and thousands of others began to defect to the government in a disarmament that carried on for the next few years.

The surrender was not without its terms, according to Youk Chhang, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

“All of the Khmer Rouge who defected were given a piece of land,” he said, adding that many were given army jobs, too.

The dispute started in 2005, when officials annexed land in nearby Kampong Speu province, where the families had been living since 1996. The new authorities, residents say, weren’t respecting old arrangements.

Krouch Sina, the wife of one of the former cadres, said that commune officials had an­nounced that previously granted land is now located in 317 Techo Akpivath commune in Kampot province.

“So only the government can help us in this case,” she said.

Khouy Khun Hour, the governor in Kampot, said that any measurements in the area are part of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s land-titling initiative, in which volunteers mark boundaries.

According to the policy, he said, land on which residents are living and planting must be measured, though he wasn’t explicit on how the cadres would be affected.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Joe Freeman

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