Ethnic minority Phnong villagers in Mondulkiri province have called for action to be taken against Vietnamese rubber firm Binh Phouc 1, which they say has bulldozed their land and intimidated activists for years.
The representatives of the hundreds of ethnic minority villagers from Keo Seima district’s Sre Chhouk commune, who petitioned the government and UN in Phnom Penh yesterday, that the firm had burned down 150 of their homes and threatened to have 10 villagers arrested.
Tek Vannara, head of the NGO Forum, said the local civil society group would investigate the dispute and file a report to the government.
Binh Phuoc 1 Company representatives could not be reached for comment; however, Sin Vanvuth, the Keo Seima district governor, said the dispute had been resolved on August 21.
“The authorities did not burn down their houses. There were 15 families, but they have increased in number, because they want to grab the company’s land,” he said.
Binh Phuoc 1, a subsidiary of the state-owned Vietnam Rubber Group, has come under fire from rights groups and investigators for years for allegedly violating the law and villagers’ rights.
Sok Rotha, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the company should seek to negotiate a peaceful settlement.
“For the ethnic villagers, they should have rights to control the land in that area, because that is where they are from,” he said.