Three villagers from Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat district were illegally detained and beaten on Monday by a group of soldiers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Number 6 Brigade over a land dispute, victims and rights group Adhoc said yesterday.
Yea Thon, 53, mother of two of the victims, said that soldiers had brought planks of wood to start construction of a house on her farmland. When her sons and brother went to remove the wood, the soldiers arrested the trio and held them at the military base for four hours, she said.
“I have lived here more than 20 years,” she explained. “This land belongs to me.”
Thon said she was confident that the land was part of her 3-hectare plot as it had been demarcated by youth land measurement volunteers.
One of the detainees, Yea Sreng, said all three had visible wounds from being beaten.
Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said that the victims are preparing a complaint to file to local authorities.
“If the villagers are wrong, [soldiers] must file a complaint with police to arrest them. [Detaining them] is illegal,” he said.
Oung Phal, a local village chief, said authorities had asked the soldiers to release the family and seek a resolution to the dispute.
The Number 6 Brigade was involved in another land dispute in 2013 that saw 27 families accuse the unit of blocking them from farming a 150-hectare plot. The brigade could not be reached for comment yesterday.