More than 200 villagers from Svay Rieng province’s Romeas Hek district blocked a rubber company from clearing their land for a fourth consecutive day yesterday, calling on authorities to let them finish harvesting their cassava crops.
Dom Sith, one of the protesters in Tras commune, said about 30 police officials and 20 military police were at yesterday’s protest, working on behalf of Peam Chaing
Rubber Company. For the past two years, tempers have flared between the villagers and the rubber company, which was granted a 3,960-hectare land concession in 2007.
“We first request the company to temporarily stop clearing our crops because will collect our crops within the next two months,” said Dom Sith. “But the district governor told us that the company can’t stop and our farms have to be cleared.”
Romeas Hek district Deputy Governor Hem Sokun said he’s informed the firm to not clear old cassava planting grounds, but go ahead with clearing recently cultivated land.
“The company has agreed to stop clearing for two months upon my request to let the villagers collect their crops,” he said. “But for the newly-grown cassava, it must be cleared.”
Hem Sokun said he couldn’t make any further requests of the company because it had already received the concession land from the government. Chhum Ry, police chief of Romeas Hek district, declined to comment yesterday, saying that he was busy.