About 200 people gathered outside Preah Vihear Provincial Court yesterday to show solidarity with five villagers being questioned over allegations of vandalism committed during a land dispute protest.
The dispute revolves around a plot of land in Sangkum Thmei district’s Ro’ang commune that resident Srey Vaon said yesterday had been used as a burial ground “since ancient times”.
However, Vaon said, in 2014, a major from the Interior Ministry named Om Vanna cleared the land and sold it on, prompting a local outcry.
One of the five people questioned yesterday, Chhay Chanra, said that Vanna had filed a complaint over the burning of posts he put down to mark his claim to the land.
Chanra denied responsibility for the arson. “The claim to the land is not one individual’s, but for the whole community – to build a pagoda, a hospital, a school,” he said, adding that Vanna was seeking $10,000 in compensation.
Vanna could not be reached.
Adhoc coordinator Lor Chan blamed authorities for not calling for negotiations earlier, but District Governor Kem Vichet insisted negotiations had been attempted and abandoned.