Almost 100 people from Boeung Snor village gathered at Banteay Meanchey’s Provincial Hall yesterday, demanding that provincial authorities resolve a 13-year-old dispute involving land promised to a group of Khmer Rouge defectors by the government in 1997.
Boeung Snor village representative and former Khmer Rouge soldier Ouk Tang, 72, said Prime Minister Hun Sen offered his community’s 246 families 1,432 hectares of land in exchange for recognising his authority in 1997. However, Tang said, at the time his community could not afford the trucks necessary to clear the bamboo forest on most of the land.
Between 2004 and 2008, Tang said, a local military commander clear-cut 280 hectares of the land and sold it to a private company called Seng Houng Heng and an oknha, whom he did not identify, respectively.
In response, Tang said, his community petitioned the National Committee for Land Dispute Resolution, the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet for help, to no avail.
“We do not want to hear the lying promise again and again,” Tang said.
In response to the villagers’ requests, Banteay Meanchey Provincial Deputy Governor Oum Reatrey signed a contract promising to resolve the dispute on June 9, after the commune elections.
“I have no hope and confidence that their land dispute will be resolved after the commune election since in the past, Oum Reatrey used to hint that he has no right to resolve it since another disputing party has a lot of powerful people behind them,” said Long Sokuthy, another Boeung Snor representative.
Reatrey could not be reached for comment.