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Deal to end Phnong’s five-year land dispute

Tree trunks lie in a section of cleared forest in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district in 2014 near an ELC owned by Binh Phuoc Kratie Rubber 2 Company.
Tree trunks lie in a section of cleared forest in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district in 2014 near an ELC owned by Binh Phuoc Kratie Rubber 2 Company. Heng Chivoan

Deal to end Phnong’s five-year land dispute

A community of ethnic Phnong people in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district has accepted a settlement from a Vietnamese rubber firm ending a five-year land dispute.

Eight of the community’s representatives met for two hours yesterday with representatives of Binh Phuoc Kratie Co, along with district and provincial authorities and officials from rights group Adhoc while more than a 100 community members waited outside.

“After negotiation, we agreed to take 375 hectares that had been our community land which the company cleared and planted rubber trees on,” said Brorb Chib, one of the eight representatives. “The company cleared and burned down our ancestral land and huts to plant rubber trees even though we had a shrine there,” he said.

The meeting came four days after the community demonstrated at the provincial hall. Chib said the authorities and the company were in agreement, but no document had been signed or thumbprinted and a date had not been set to measure the land.

Deputy Provincial Governor Teng Sambath said the demarcation would happen this month. “We will go down to see it with all stakeholders.”

Adhoc provincial coordinator Sok Ratha said the community had asked for 500 hectares and wanted their land returned. They would not accept any other location, he said.

“The meeting produces no result yet,” he said.

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