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Protest over Khmer Rouge land dispute

About 80 villagers calling for the release of two former Khmer Rouge soldiers allegedly arrested for illegally occupying land in Malai district rallied outside Banteay Meanchey Provincial Hall, locals and rights group Adhoc said yesterday.

Community representatives Ly Khley and Hoeun Vy were detained on Tuesday for allegedly leading nearly 80 families to reoccupy territory they claim was distributed by the government in early March, said Van Phin, the wife of Khley.

“The government gave my [the land] to my husband and other soldiers when they integrated with the government in 1996 and 1997,” she said, adding that each family was allotted 5 hectares.

The land dispute dates back to 2004, according to Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for Adhoc.

“The people have filed complaints with all levels of government authorities but still no solutions have been reached,” said Chanka, adding that four high-level government officials have been implicated in multiple complaints submitted by the affected community members.

Deputy commander of Regiment E67 Ros Thoeun and former deputy chief of staff Mao Kiry are both accused by villagers of violating government policy by selling the land off to “dealers”, said Chanka.

Commander of Battalion 671 Chhun Krenh and former commander Ket Tieng also stand accused of land-grabbing.

The four military officials could not be reached yesterday.



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