Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ethnic villagers ask government return land




Ethnic villagers ask government return land

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A woman and her children walk through a section of cleared community forest in Mondulkiri province. Heng Chivoan

Ethnic villagers ask government return land

Mondulkiri provincial ethnic community members on Friday demanded that the National Authority on Land Dispute Resolution return land they claim was taken from them by illegal settlers, as well as government departments.

The 1,255 community members handed a petition to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction which said that on January 16, 2004, 102ha of land in Doh Kramom Mountain was reserved as a sacred place and ethnic minority cultural centre by a local government leader.

But with residents of other provinces entering the area, the land – located in Sokdum commune’s Doh Kramom Mountain village, Mondulkiri province – was illegally settled by the new arrivals.

On December 12, 2016, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts worked with the provincial authority and ethnic minority community members to solve the land dispute by giving a portion of the disputed cultural centre’s land to the alleged new arrivals, reducing its size from 102.27ha to 87.81ha.

While the minority group accepted this decision, they say land grabbing from their centre continues to happen. They claim that provincial authorities themselves are responsible, with government departments – including the Civil Service, Industry and Handicraft, and Mines and Energy – now taking land from the cultural centre.

The representative of the ethnic minority group, Ploek Phirum, told The Post that it was not acceptable for the provincial authority to take segments of their land for these departments.

“The provincial authorities should not cut the land of the cultural centre. We filed the petition to ask the minister, Chea Sophara, to mediate and withdraw the land from these institutions,” she said.

The claim stipulates that they do not want the original 102ha plot of land back, but want their 87.81ha plot agreed in 2016 to be guaranteed and protected.

Provincial Culture and Fine Arts Department director Sey Touch told The Post that his department was committed to protecting, preserving and promoting the culture and livelihood of ethnic Cambodian minority groups.

“I completely agree with their demand to clearly demarcate the centre’s land. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts wants this action as well,” he said.

Provincial Mines and Energy Director San Darith told The Post that his department had filed a request for land in the disputed area to build a laboratory, but they were yet to receive it.

“If the administration of the provincial hall offers our department the land, we will take it to build an office and laboratory, but if the provincial authority does not offer it, our department will not demand it,” he said.

Provincial Industry and Handicraft Department Director Pov Sotheara told The Post that the provincial hall offered his department a plot of land in the disputed area in 2012 to build an office.

“The land at Doh Kramom Mountain belongs to the state and our department has requested it to build an administration building,” Sotheara said.

Sotheara added that his department does not oppose the ethnic villagers receiving some of their land back as requested, but they do not believe it all should be withdrawn from government departments.

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,