Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kampong Chhnang families call for return of military-seized land



Kampong Chhnang families call for return of military-seized land

Kampong Chhnang families call for return of military-seized land

Representatives of over 40 families in two communes in Rolea Ba’ier district, Kampong Chhnang province, have asked the authorities to help them take back more than 50ha that had been handed to the military for its use.

The families are from Trok Lech village in Sre Thmey commune, and Preah Ream Raingsey village in Chrey Bakk commune.

One of their representatives, Prak Sophorn, told The Post on Monday that the military has encircled their property in the two villages.

The dispute, he said, dates back to 2015 when forces of the Kampong Chhnang Sub-military Region Operation Zone took over 200ha in the area for the K-88 arsenal of the Ministry of National Defence.

The villagers claim that 50ha out of the 200ha is farmland for growing rice, vegetables and other crops.

“We have been claiming the land and protesting for many years, but the soldiers have refused to give back more than 50ha and there is still no solution,” Sophorn said.

A villager, Yoem Chhen, said the land is legally owned and people have been farming there since 1989.

He said after the people protested and filed a complaint with the authorities for help, the ministry appointed four military officials to verify the villagers’ claims.

Soon after, an announcement was made that the Council of Ministers had handed over the disputed land to the military.

“I am not protesting to get back all 200ha of state land. We are just asking for only 50ha to be granted to the people. They can do whatever they want with the rest. We only want our farmland back to we can grow crops as before,” Chhen said.

Nou Khean, the Sre Thmey village chief said the disputed land had been occupied by villagers since 1989, with some holding land titles and some not.

“The land was first occupied by the soldiers for two years [1985-1987] and they left without a word. The people started farming on the land in 1989.

“The government also agreed to hand over the land to the people. By 2015, the soldiers came back to claim their land and today both sides claim the land belongs to them,” he said.

Thon Thoeun, the commander of the Kampong Chhnang Sub Military Region Operation Zone and president of the Cambodian Veterans Association of Kampong Chhnang, said on Monday that the land has been in dispute for years.

People claim the land, but it is a location for the arsenal and the Council of Ministers handed it over to the soldiers.

“I cannot make any decision, I just manage the military. However, we would like to end this dispute as soon as possible,” he said.

Kampong Chhnang provincial governor Chhour Chandoeun said he had several times confirmed the announcement from the Council of Ministers about handing over the land to the soldiers but the villagers have refused to listen and have continued to protest.

He said he and the national defence ministry team were thinking of a solution for both sides as soon as possible to end the long-standing conflict.

“Now, I will send an expert team to investigate the situation directly on the site and ask the soldiers and citizens on both sides what they want. After that, we will start discussing to end the dispute. We will try to resolve it as soon as possible,” Chandoeun said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting