Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Authorities accused of ignoring logging




Authorities accused of ignoring logging

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ethnic villagers in Dak Dam Commune protested at Chrey Thom Waterfall resort last week. Supplied

Authorities accused of ignoring logging

Bunong indigenous residents in Dak Dam commune in Mondulkiri province’s O’Raing district have accused the authorities of ignoring the clearing of community forest land at Chrey Thom waterfall resort and a local cemetery despite repeated complaints since 2017.

Chrot Khloeut, a resident of Dak Dam commune’s Pou Les village, told The Post on Monday that the cemetery and waterfall resort cover 328ha of forest land in Pou Les, Pou Treng and Pou Chhorb villages.

He said people from different provinces had come to clear the land for private ownership since 2017 and that it was continuing to this day.

Authorities have failed to tackle the problem, Khloeut said, even though residents have made several complaints to the provincial hall and even protested.

He said that originally when people came to clear the land, they persuaded the local authorities to issue a letter recognising their private ownership, despite indigenous residents having used part of the public land as a cemetery since 1979 and the waterfall resort being recognised by the provincial hall in 2016.

“We are not trying to claim private ownership of the land. It belongs to the state, but they don’t listen. They say we want to grab the land. If you look through the global positioning system, over 4ha of the waterfall land and 1ha of the cemetery has been taken,” Khloeut said.

However, provincial hall spokesperson Sok Sera said the provincial hall had not received any complaints and suggested that perhaps they had only been filed at O’Raing district.

“I did not see the complaints at the provincial hall. I am unaware of them. When we receive complaints, the provincial hall does not stay quiet, it always goes to inspect the site and address the matter accordingly,” he said.

Indigenous resident Boret Kampi said many indigenous residents had filed complaints to the provincial hall since 2017 after four or five families from different provinces came to clear the community land.

He said the residents had also frequently made enquires to find out what action has been taken in response.

Kampi said that he later discovered that the provincial hall had endorsed the complaints and sent them to the district hall to deal with.

District hall officials, he said, had come to inspect the land, but no measures were taken to solve the situation.

On Friday, Kampi said, some 80 residents had gathered to protest again to stop the ongoing land clearance and reclaim the lost land but to no avail.

“Officials from the district hall have come here a few times, but weren’t able to resolve anything – and the provincial hall says there were no complaints whatsoever. I wonder why?” he said.

O’Raing district governor Nong Tunnary denied that the authorities had ignored the land disputes and said the authorities had solved some already, but the indigenous residents remained dissatisfied.

He declined to say who was right or wrong – because both sides have documents certified by former and current authorities – but said he would strive to get to the root of the problem so it can be solved.

“We cannot solve it exactly as they want. We are doing it step by step. We have asked the involved parties to put a stop to any activity on the disputed land. We are not ignoring them. They say we don’t care, but in fact, we have cared enough to have already made compromises many times,” Tunnary said.

Eang Mengly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, wondered why the former authorities had issued a letter certifying the community land as privately owned, when he said that, on behalf of the local authorities, they have the right to revoke any land belonging to the state.

“In the past, the authorities seem to have pushed the matter back and forth – they don’t seem to have any intention of solving it at all. From my point of view, they are avoiding addressing the case,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.