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Authorities stop villagers from blocking a road in Kratie during a protest over a land dispute yesterday.
Authorities stop villagers from blocking a road in Kratie during a protest over a land dispute yesterday. Adhoc

Rubber firm excavated land, Kratie families say

More than 160 families in Kratie province’s Snuol district have alleged that the Memot Rubber Plantation company has been using excavators to clear their land.

The families from Pi Thnou commune filed a complaint to the provincial office of local rights group Adhoc on Wednesday, claiming that since last week, the company has brought in excavators and security guards to clear about 6 hectares of land.

Villagers have so far managed to prevent the workers from clearing more land, according to Heang Cheav Kun of Adhoc.

“We have collected information as proof to seek intervention from the authorities to help the villagers,” she said.

The 9,850-hectare Memot rubber estate has existed since the French protectorate, and was privatised in 2008 after decades of state ownership.

Khem Sok, a villager who signed the complaint, said the company had tried to destroy land that contained banana trees the community harvests.

“Luckily, we stopped their activity quickly. They were clearing our land and farms, with banana trees and other plants, covering 6 hectares.”

But commune chief Poeun Vin yesterday said that the villagers had only moved onto the Memot concession after it was officially granted to the private company in 2008.

“They are newcomers who live and farm there. They suggested the government transfer some land as a social concession to them, but we are a local authority, we cannot rush a response to them,” he said.

Memot Rubber Plantation director Kim Sok Leap could not be reached yesterday.

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