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Landgrab protested: Villagers vow to block road again

Landgrab protested: Villagers vow to block road again

After a successful blockade on Saturday, villagers in Kratie province’s Snuol district have pledged to shut down traffic on National Road 76A again if local authorities do not honour their promise to help settle a local land dispute.

About 500 villagers from Pithnou commune barricaded the public road for nearly 10 hours at the weekend in the hope of forcing an intervention in the battle for their land.

Iv Saphum, Snuol district governor, confirmed that the provincial and district authorities had caved in to the protesters’ demands in order to get traffic flowing again.

The protesters are locked in a dispute with four private firms they accuse of clearing their land since April 2011.

They say that the Memot rubber company, Sovan Rithy, Samnang Angkor and Dai Nam began evicting villagers as long ago as 2002.

A source from the district authority said that the firms implicated by the villagers in the land grab were officially awarded an economic land concession of 5,000 to 8,000 hectares by the government in 2008 for rubber plantations.

Heng Oun, a representative for the Pithnou commune, explained that the villagers had reopened the road on Saturday in response to assurances from the authority that the disagreement will be solved on Tuesday.

However, they are taking nothing for granted.

“The villagers have made a tent so that they can stay on the side of the road wait until April 3. If there is no solution, we will form a bigger protest to block the road again,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tep Nimol at [email protected]

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