About 400 villagers from Svay Rieng’s Romeas Hek district will spend the next couple of days traversing the Krasaing commune in order to add more thumbprints to a petition calling for the return of land taken from them and given to a rubber company.
Chief of the Krasaing forest community Chap Sophat said yesterday that after the group finishes collecting thumbprints for the petition, which already contains 1,066, they plan to hand-deliver it to the provincial governor.
“We would like to request the provincial governor to cut out about 500 hectares for community conservation and protection,” he said.
In 2011, Metapheap Company received 1,230 hectares in an economic land concession in the area, with the aim of developing rubber plantations.
Villagers from Krasaing protested on two prior occasions last year when the company brought excavators to begin working on the land.
“This time, if the provincial governor does not find a resolution for us, we will go to Phnom Penh and ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to help us – only he can help us,” Chap Sophat said.
Provincial Adhoc coordinator Prak Saran said the government should consider the villagers’ petition because their request to protect the forest is profitable for them and positive for the environment.
“I think the villagers are not wrong, because they don’t use violence. They are just asking to protect the forest,” he said.
Svay Rieng provincial governor Chaing Am could not be reached for comment.
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