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Burial ground allegedly razed

Burial ground allegedly razed

excavator dispute land
An excavator parked on disputed land in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district last year. Photo Supplied

For the second time this year, members of an ethnic minority group in Ratanakkiri have furiously lashed out at a Vietnamese company they accuse of bulldozing one of their ancestral burial grounds.  

Tampuon minority residents in Lumphat district’s Seda commune levelled the accusation yesterday against the firm Kao Su Ea Lev Bm Yoy Stock.

The firm, which is listed as belonging to Vietnamese national Le Van Thuan, was granted an 8,400 hectare concession in the area in October 2011.

Community representative Sun Lon, 53, alleged yesterday that the firm broke the rules of that concession, which forbid them from clearing areas awarded as community land, when they bullzdozed a 15 by 25-metre plot of an almost 10-year-old Tampuon graveyard.

“The Vietnamese chief of staff from Ea Lev ordered [workers] to bulldoze our graveyard. Twenty of our villagers immediately approached the scene to stop them,” he said.

He said the graveyard had been demarcated for them earlier this year under the national land registration scheme.  

But local authorities denied the community’s accusations.

“It was not razed. Ea Lev bulldozed some 15 metres away from it,” said Tom Phan, Seda commune chief, adding he had inspected the scene with Lumphat district governor Konh Srun on Tuesday.

In January, Jarai minority villagers in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadav district were so enraged by the destruction of one of their burial grounds that they effectively took employees of the Vietnamese firm responsible hostage.  

Another Jarai minority group in O’Yadav district ensnared in a land-grabbing dispute with the firm known as Company 72 claimed yesterday they had been robbed of another three hectares of land.

In February, the firm was summonsed to court on land grabbing accusations, and yesterday O’Yadav district governor Dork Sar said Company 72 was once again acting illegally.

“Community forest is recognised by us and the razed farmland was measured by Hun Sen’s volunteer youths. Therefore, I have stopped the company from bulldozing the land,” he said.

None of the firms allegedly involved in land grabbing could be reached for comment.

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