The families of nearly 40 soldiers and police officials, among more than 100 households living in Svay Chum village, had been ordered by Preah Vihear provincial authorities to be the first to relocate from the village in compliance with a deadline that expires today, residents said yesterday.
The National Authority for Preah Vihear has extended until today an order to evict 132 families in Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune from their houses and resettle them in nearby Samdech Techo village to make way for the construction of a government office.
It has offered residents 50 x 100-metre plots of land and US$495 per family to resettle in Samdech Techo, but vill-agers have refused to move, protesting that Samdech Techo has no streets, schools or hospitals.
Soa Yath, a representative of the villagers, claimed yesterday officials had warned 36 soldiers and police officials to comply with the order or risk losing their jobs. He added that residents had lived on the land for more than 10 years.
“They ordered all soldiers and police who live there to move house first as an example to other residents,” Soa Yath said. “If not, [the authorities] will burn the houses.”
Soa Yath said the authorities were attempting to assume control over 380 hectares of land in the area, including 100 hectares on which residents’ houses stood.
Bach Don, a soldier in the 404 unit, said soldiers who lived in the village had been ordered to leave to send a message to other residents.
“[The authorities] threaten us that if we do not move, they will burn our houses,” he said.
District governor Sok Hai said yesterday the villagers had to leave because the land was needed to build an office and a tree-seedling ground.
Hang Soth, general director of the National Authority for Preah Vihear, declined to comment.
Lor Chan, a provincial co-ordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said residents had held land titles since 2000.