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Mining project targeted

MORE than 100 ethnic Jarai villagers in Ratanakkiri province on Tuesday filed a complaint with the rights group Adhoc against a Vietnamese company they have accused of illegally clearing 10 hectares of community forest and drilling for iron ore on their farmland.

Rcham Yong, a representative of villagers in Lumchor, Koh and Keschong communes, said the exploration for iron ore deposits on the part of the Vietnamese firm Hor Anh Ratanakkiri, had “caused terrible effects on eight areas of slash-and-burn farmland used by our community”.

He added that the villagers planned to hold “a big non-violent demonstration” on Saturday to demand that the company cease exploration and clearing activities and remove its machinery from their land or “quit investment in the area completely”.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday that the company has since late February cleared about 10 hectares of the villagers’ community forest and used drills to explore for iron ore.

Provincial Governor Pav Hamphan said the company had a licence to explore for iron ore in Ratanakkiri, but added that he did not know the exact extent of the designated exploration area. Company representatives could not be reached Tuesday.

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