An opposition lawmaker-elect pledged yesterday to visit an undemarcated section of the border in Svay Rieng province to investigate allegations that Cambodian farmers have been blocked by Vietnamese soldiers from using land they previously farmed for years without problem.
Svay Rieng lawmaker-elect Real Camerin said that he would take about 100 Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters to visit Romeas Hek district’s Doung commune on June 30, where he said farmers had been blocked from the land for more than a year, and where he himself was prevented from walking last week.
“We want people who are land owners to show us clearly [where is] their land,” Camerin said. “We will demand the government to recheck on people’s land where they used to farm in the past.”
After receiving complaints, Camerin visited the land himself last week, only to be told by a Vietnamese soldier that the area was off limits.
“At the [undemarcated] ‘white area’, the yuon can use and do anything,” Camerin said in a video of the encounter, using a word considered by some offensive to Vietnamese, and maintaining that Cambodians did not have the same liberty. “As a lawmaker-elect I must know that where Khmer land is, and I must have rights to stand on Khmer land.”
In the video, a soldier tells Camerin that who the land belongs to is still a matter of debate.
“Wait for both governments to resolve this,” the soldier says.
Meanwhile, resident Ouk Yorn said that she had planted rice on land given to her by her father-in-law for more than 10 years, but that recently a portion had been blocked.
“They threatened my husband that if my husband is still defiant to [try to farm the rest] they will not allow him to enter their country” for business, she said.
Romeas Hek District Governor Penh Chea said that the area where Vietnamese soldiers had stopped Camerin was still disputed, and its ownership “is up to the border committee’s resolution”.
Senior border affairs official Va Kimhong said the committee would visit the area and clearly mark it this month.