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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers set to regain land

Villagers set to regain land

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Villagers from Kratie province, who blocked national road 76a last week after four of their own were shot by guards working for agro-development firm TTY, appear to be on their way to receiving farmland they lost to the company in an economic land concession.

Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Sren Krya, 23, recovers at a hospital in Kampong Cham last week after being shot in the back by a security guard employed by TTY during a protest over the clearing of land in Kratie province.

A statement released by the Ministry of Interior last week stated that the government would return land on which the villagers had previously harvested cassava, as well as provide compensation to the four who were shot.

Yesterday, TTY deputy director Heng Sarath said the company will oblige the requests from the government and provide the villagers with land.

“We have to respect the government sub-decree. We will provide them the land according to the law,” the deputy director said.

About 400 villagers from Kratie’s Snuol district blocked national road 76a on Wednesday after TTY security guards opened fire on them with AK-47s when the villagers tried to keep the company from clearing their cassava fields.

One man, 22-year-old  Mong Touch, was shot in both legs and critically injured.

In 2008, TTY was granted more than 9,000 hectares of land in Kratie as part of an economic land concession from the government. The company’s Heng Sarath said environment minister Mok Mareth will travel to Snuol district to meet with villagers tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the government has repeated its pledge to arrest the security guards who opened fire on the protesters.

“We will find and arrest the perpetrators who were behind the shooting and bring them to court to sentence them in accordance with the law,” spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Khieu Sopheak said in a statement obtained by the Post yesterday, adding that the shooters were “not government armed forces”.

Kratie provincial police chief Choung Seang Hak said his police force is taking steps to arrest those responsible for the shooting. “We know [the suspects’] identity already,” the police chief said.

Yi Soksan, deputy director of the land program at rights group Adhoc, said he welcomed the government resolution.

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