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Villagers in Preah Vihear block Rui Feng bulldozers from clearing disputed land last month. Photo supplied
Villagers in Preah Vihear block Rui Feng bulldozers from clearing disputed land last month. Photo supplied

Local official punched me, says Preah Vihear land disputant

The deputy governor of Preah Vihear’s Tbeng Meanchey district has been accused of punching a displaced ethnic Kuoy villager during a confrontation over land being cleared by Chinese sugar company Rui Feng.

Rui Feng and four sister companies that share the same registered address were granted an economic land concession over the area in 2011. Since then, residents have been protesting and obstructing clearing machines.

During such a protest last Sunday, evictee Run Phon, 55, alleges that Deputy District Governor Ly Chan punched him following a heated exchange of words.

“The machinery cleared my farmland. I stood in its way, but they did not stop. I got furious and insulted them,” Phon said. “That’s when Ly Chan punched me on the left eyebrow.”

He claims he attempted to fight back but was restrained by three district police officers. Four commune officials were also present, he said.

Phon’s account was corroborated by Luot Sang, a local representative of NGO Ponlork Khmer, who called for action to be taken against Ly.

“He is a public official, but he did not help the people. Instead, he acted violently against them,” Sang said.

However, Ly contended yesterday that Phon was drunk and aggressive. “He jumped at us so I pushed him and he was cut with my nail,” Ly said.

Company representative Ing Thingkong said he was unaware of the incident.

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