Claiming that district authorities destroyed their crops with bulldozers in February to evict them from their land, villagers representing 25 families from Oddar Meanchey’s Anlong Veng district yesterday petitioned the National Assembly to grant them land titles. Village representative Sat Borath said the area is home to more than 100 families, each of which inhabits and farms between 1.5 and 5 hectares of the disputed land.
When district authorities offered to grant each family 1,600 square metres of land in exchange for resettlement, said Borath, 25 families refused. Anlong Veng District Administration Chief Ngoun Lin said the conflict arose because the villagers reside illegally on state land. ‘We do not want a dispute so we arranged them [new] land divided into plots,’ said Lin.
Anlong Veng Commune Chief Vong Pheak placed the number of families who refused resettlement at 35. ‘They said they want [the] national level to solve the problem,’ he said.
Acknowledging that the villagers may have settled on state land, Adhoc Provincial Coordinator Srey Naren nevertheless disagreed with the approach of local authorities, saying they should permit the villagers to stay on land they have inhabited for years. ‘It could be unfair if the authority takes their land,’ he said.