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Border drama continues

People inspect a pond that was constructed by Vietnamese
People inspect a pond that was constructed by Vietnamese at the end of last month in Ratanakkiri province. ADHOC

Border drama continues

More than 200 villagers living near the Vietnamese border in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district have demanded that their local border police chief be sacked over his “carelessness” for allowing Vietnamese encroachment into Cambodian territory.

The demand by 274 ethnic Jarai villagers in Pak Nhai commune’s Lom village came as a ninth Vietnamese-built pond was discovered in the area, a hotspot of border tensions after human rights group Adhoc discovered five such ponds last month.

The ponds, publicised by the CNRP, prompted Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday to send two diplomatic notes demanding Vietnam stop building in the yet-to-be demarcated section of the border.

Yesterday, in a petition also sent to the National Assembly, villagers urged the Ministry of Interior to dismiss border police chief Rocham Chib, also known as Rat, saying he had allowed the Vietnamese to build the ponds.

Stepping into the fray surrounding a different segment of long-contested border, Prime Minister Hun Sen has refused to address accusations that his government ceded two unnamed villages to Vietnam in order to hold on to two others in Tbong Khmum province, one of which was the hometown of National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

In a response to a letter sent by Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Un Sam An on Friday and obtained yesterday, Hun Sen said he had already clarified the situation in a 2012 speech, and declined to revisit the matter.

Sam An had inquired about the two villages exchanged for Anlung Chrey village – Samrin’s birthplace – and Thlok Trach village, and proposed an examination of possible Vietnamese encroachment over a kilometre into
Cambodian territory near the Phnom Den checkpoint in Takeo province.

“The royal government does not [abide] by the principle of taking villages or farmland from Cambodian people who have been occupying it, and then benefiting from the ceding of [territory] to Vietnam,” he said, adding that he wanted to help those who were living on their lands for generations to continue doing so.

Hun Sen also dismissed Sam An’s claims about border movement in Takeo, saying that a “border expert” like Sam An should know that the issue has been raised since 2005 and that it is “contrary to the truth”.

Sam An said he would discuss the situation with other CNRP lawmakers to get Hun Sen and senior border affairs minister Va Kimhong to clarify the situation.

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