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

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from