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Villagers balk at gravesite’s division

More than 300 families in Tbong Khmum’s Suong town have petitioned to halt the handover of a portion of a communal graveyard to three families, activists and villagers said yesterday.

Von Seng Thouy, an investigator with rights group Licadho, said the 306 families are lodging a complaint over a 5-hectare strip of land used to bury villagers since 1980.

Local authorities allegedly handed over 1 hectare to three families without consulting local stakeholders.

“All the villagers need the land. It’s the community’s property, not to be owned by each family,” he said.

Village resident Hou Sokha, 39, said that the community is worried that the handover will possibly mean less graveyard space in the future.

“Land prices are so high, and we’re concerned that the burial grounds will be sold or given to families for private ownership more and more,” he said.

However, Thol Thmey Village chief Cham Dom, said the local authorities did not sell the land, but simply cut off a portion of it.

“The authorities saw that these families who live near the gravesites for many years take care of the land,” he said.

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