The Kampong Thom provincial governor issued a letter on Tuesday to villagers living in Santuk district, ordering them to provide documentation confirming their ownership of land they reportedly “purchased” from brokers after it had already been assigned to relocated families, officials said yesterday.
Deputy district governor Som Vanthorn said about 1,750 families who relocated to Thmor Samleang village, in Kraya commune, in 2009 had received 20m by 40m plots of land for their homes, but that only 77 families of disabled military veterans had received the promised hectare of farmland that was to come with each plot.
Villagers, many of them military veterans, began settling in Kraya commune’s Banteay Ragneang village in 2004 and received official recognition as landowners from local authorities in 2005.
In 2007, however, the Vietnamese company Tin Bien was awarded an 8,100-hectare land concession for a rubber plantation in the area. Families were evicted in December, 2009 and later offered land in Thmor Samleang village.
Som Vanthorn said the letter requested documentation from people, mostly from Phnom Penh , who claimed they had bought the land from brokers.
“We set up a one-month deadline for them. If they do not come to show their documents, we have to withdraw that land and provide it to villagers,” he said.
Provincial governor Chhun Chhorn said that officials would gather information from villagers claiming ownership of land in Thmor Samleang village and report to the provincial land management committee by December 15.
Luon Bunthy, a former resident of Banteay Ragneang village who fled the village to avoid arrest, said he had not received any land because he was afraid police would apprehend him.
“Police accused me of burning down an excavator, so I lost my land and also did not get land in exchange, and a lot of families are waiting for farmland,” he said.
Provincial Licadho monitor Poe Oumoete said at least 11 other families were claiming land ownership in the area.