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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Locals block vehicles to protect prayer site

Locals block vehicles to protect prayer site

Ethnic Phnong villagers in Mondulkiri’s O’Raing district lodged a complaint with rights group Adhoc yesterday over allegations local businessmen have been attempting to clear their traditional prayer grounds.

Dak Dam commune resident Svay Treng said that about 50 Phnong, herself included, obstructed a group of men who arrived with excavators at the half-hectare prayer site last Sunday.

Provincial Adhoc coordinator Sok Rotha said that the NGO had inspected the site and concluded those behind the excavators were individual businessmen, rather than representatives of a larger corporate entity.

“They came to clear the Phnong’s traditional prayer grounds; it’s a type of violation of their right to pray,” Rotha said.

However, district official Kach Na said he believed the excavators had strayed from a nearby patch of land sold by a local resident.

“We stopped them from clearing the disputed land until a solution has been reached. They confirmed that there is no clear boundary with the land they bought nearby,” Na said.

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