OFFICIALS in Battambang province’s Samlot district said yesterday that they would meet with local military officers to negotiate a temporary solution to a land dispute that has reportedly seen soldiers beat and shoot at villagers in recent months.
“We’ve decided to ask the military to allow people to farm the land because farming season is almost over and their disagreement can be solved later,” said In Savrith, Samlot deputy district governor.
Officers from Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Military Region 5 say 21 families have laid illegal claim to forested land.
However, In Savrith said that officials saw “no trees on the disputed land”, and that the villagers had obviously farmed it for several years.
“I hope this land will be offered to the people,” he said.
On July 1, around 10 soldiers opened fire on 60 farmers who were planting corn in the area.
Although none of the farmers were hit by bullets, two were later injured when soldiers reportedly beat people who refused to stop farming.
Tuy Bunly, deputy commander of Military Region 5, said: “I oppose only forest land. If the villagers have land they have farmed for a long time, let them continue.”