Representatives of 50 families in Ratanakkiri’s Andong Meas district filed a complaint with rights group Adhoc yesterday alleging that a Vietnamese concessionaire is responsible for destroying about 50 hectares of cashew plantations.
Sorl Penh, 58, a representative for the villagers from Nhang commune, said yesterday that locals had been relying on the land for nearly 20 years but had been unable to stop Company 72 from clearing community land since March 14.
“About 20 to 30 of us tried to stop their vehicles. They stopped while we were there, and they continued clearing when we left. We do not know what to do since the authorities also could not find a solution for this [dispute],” he said.
Andong Meas district governor Norng Darith said district authorities had attempted to solve the issue three times already but had failed.
“Some villagers stopped using the land eight or 10 years ago, but when the company tried to clear it, they stopped the company and said it was their own,” Darith said.
Company 72 has already been implicated in a land dispute involving the clearing of some 10 per cent of a 1,000-hectare forest in neighbouring O’Yadav district, said Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc.
“This company did not obey the policy of economic land concessions, because it has cleared community forest and farmlands. But still there has been no legal measure set to punish them,” Thy said, adding that the firm was overstepping its 6,000-hectare concession in O’Yadav.
Contact information for Company 72 is not publicly available, but O’Yadav district governor Dak Sar confirmed with the Post in late March that the company’s concession partly overlapped with the villagers’ forest.