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Villagers accuse police of brutality in eviction

VILLAGERS who accuse police of using guns and electric batons to drive them from disputed land in Kampong Cham province earlier this week said yesterday that they had filed a complaint with a rights group after local officials ignored their requests for intervention.

Three people received minor injuries when police used force in an attempt to remove roughly 100 villagers from 41 hectares of disputed rice fields in Stung Trang district’s Prek Kak commune on Monday, villagers said. Chear Thearith, district deputy police chief, said civilian and military police had been hired by the Long Sreng Company, a firm that has been trying to develop the site into a rubber plantation since April.

Village representative Chhem Sareth, 51, said yesterday that he had filed a complaint with the rights group Adhoc because he had not received any response to numerous complaints to the district governor.

“The authorities did not help villagers, but they help the company,” he said. “We suspect that the authority received incentive money from the company.”

Stung Trang district governor Kao Sok An said yesterday that he had “no right” to talk about the case.

“Don’t ask me about this, ask Chan Tong Yves,” he said, referring to a secretary of state at the Agriculture Ministry who could not be reached.

Neang Sovath, Adhoc’s provincial coordinator, said he had received a complaint from the villagers and was preparing a document to be sent to local authorities on their behalf.

“We would ask provincial authorities to stop using police or military police for making them afraid,” he said.

Long Sreng Company representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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