Chinese firm Union Development Group (UDG) surrounded its government-granted economic land in Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district with a 900-metre-long fence last week, burdening the four families there who refuse to relocate and threatening their livelihoods, locals say.
Uk Sana, 29, who is part of one of four remaining families in Prek Smach Chas village, said checkpoints were set up preventing everyone but the families from entering the area, causing her husband’s motorbike repair shop to lose customers.
“The fence is putting an end to our income,” she said. “It closes our way in and out and we need to ask every time we need to go anywhere.”
Explaining their yearslong refusal to relocate, she said her family wanted to live on their native land where they can fish and farm.
Sana, who owns 1 hectare of land, has asked for compensation of $300,000, a sum the company refuses to pay. According to her, the three other families have asked for over $1 million total.
In Kongchit, provincial coordinator for the rights group Licadho, who visited the village on Friday, called the fence a “serious violation” and said yesterday that the villagers have not asked authorities for intervention as they suspect authorities’ motives.
Nearly 1,200 families in Kiri Sakor and Botum Sakor districts have been affected by UDG’s 36,000-hectare land concession, more than 150 of whom still refuse to relocate despite pressure from the company and the authorities.
Sun Dara, provincial deputy governor in charge of dealing with the dispute, could not be reached yesterday, and Provincial Hall Administration Director Ouch Touch declined to comment.