Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ethnic minority families claim violent evictions in Preah Vihear

Ethnic minority families claim violent evictions in Preah Vihear

Authorities watch as wooden pillars are loaded onto a truck last week in Preah Vihear province after structures were dismantled and removed from Brame commune. Photo supplied
Authorities watch as wooden pillars are loaded onto a truck last week in Preah Vihear province after structures were dismantled and removed from Brame commune. Photo supplied

Ethnic minority families claim violent evictions in Preah Vihear

Six ethnic Kuoy families were violently evicted from their homes in Preah Vihear over the weekend, according to eyewitnesses, with further evictions threatened for another 13 families this morning.

Boeng Choen, 44, was ploughing her rice field in Tbeng Meanchey district’s Brame commune on Saturday when a neighbour called to say uniformed men were tearing down her house. Attempting to return home in a truck with 15 other villagers, she found the way blocked by 25 police, military police and provincial Forestry Administration (FA) officials, she said yesterday.

Provincial Governor Oun Chenda said yesterday that the land on which Choen and five other families had built their homes belongs to neighbouring Chheb district and that all those evicted were squatters.

But Choen, who claims no prior notice was given of the evictions, said she and her family have been living on the land since 1995. Yesterday, she showed reporters a copy of a document dated 2007 and thumbprinted by a former Brame commune chief saying the land belonged to her family.

Current Brame commune chief Meach Sarng said yesterday that there are 19 families facing eviction in the commune, all of them with proper documentation of their land. However, Choen said that when she presented her documents to officials on Saturday, they dismissed them as “invalid”.

Photos taken on Saturday show timber being taken from the demolished home and loaded onto a truck with state licence plates under the observation of military and FA officials.

When she was eventually allowed back to the land her home used to stand on, Choen was joined by her sister, Khom Rany, 26. Rany said yesterday that she had begun to take photos of the wreckage on her phone but a scuffle ensued during which officials led by provincial FA chief Ith Phomara punched her and confiscated her phone.

Phomara did not respond to requests for comment, but Chenda, the provincial governor, denied a confrontation took place.

“Our people, provincial Forestry Administration officials and others told them not to take any photos or videos,” Chenda said without explaining why photographing the area had been disallowed. “They kept filming and taking photos, so we just took their phone. We didn’t fight, we just got their phones.”

Caoung Phea, a project officer with the Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Organisation (CIPO), yesterday described Saturday’s events as both a human rights abuse and criminal assault, for which the community intends to file complaints with the provincial court and the Cambodian Human Rights Committee.

The remaining 13 families were told they had three days to leave or be similarly evicted. Phea said the community intends to file petitions today with UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith, the Ministry of Land Management and the Agriculture Ministry.

Additional reporting by Jack Davies

A previous version of this article stated that the Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Organisation intended to file complaints over the incident. In fact, the affected community intends to file the complaints.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Cambodia, states clash at UN session

    Cambodia traded shots with the international community in a heated exchange at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday evening, with states condemning the Kingdom’s ongoing crackdown on the political opposition and civil society, and an increasingly agitated Cambodia accusing member states