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Villagers say soldiers blocking land

Twenty-seven families in Oddar Meanchey’s Trapaing Prasat district filed a complaint with Hun Sen’s cabinet and the rights group Adhoc on Monday, maintaining that soldiers have been preventing them from farming since October 2012.

A representative of the villagers, Soeung Sophea, 59, said yesterday that troops from the Number 6 Intervention Brigade have threatened the families and prohibited them from planting on a 150-hectare plot of land, a charge the army denies.

Sophea said villagers had farmed the land since 2005, “but the soldiers claim that our land belongs to their garrison . . . [and] when we reject their force, they use ugly words and threaten to shoot us”.

Adhoc provincial coordinator Srey Naren said that a home was built on the land last week.

“I am afraid violence might happen if there’s no solution soon,” he said.

Deputy district governor Phun Cheakosal said that villagers asked district hall yesterday to prepare a letter asking soldiers to allow them to plant on the land, adding that he had “created a committee to solve the issue”.  

However, Major General Chhom Kheng, commander of the Number 6 brigade, maintained that none of his troops were on the disputed plot.

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