Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kampot villagers ask for intervention in dispute



Kampot villagers ask for intervention in dispute

Villagers from Kampot province gathered yesterday at Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum park to demand government intervention to solve a long-running land dispute in Kampot province.
Villagers from Kampot province gathered yesterday at Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum park to demand government intervention to solve a long-running land dispute in Kampot province. Photo supplied

Kampot villagers ask for intervention in dispute

Roughly 100 villagers from Kampot province gathered at Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum Park yesterday to ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in a long-running land dispute with an agricultural company which is owned by tycoon Chan Sothea.

The dispute erupted into a violent confrontation last week when workers with First Bio-Tech Agricultural (Cambodia) Co Ltd – which was granted a 10,000 hectare economic land concession (ELC) in 2005, now whittled down to 3,000 hectares – began tearing down homes that villagers had recently built on disputed land within the ELC.

The villagers, from Decho Aphivat commune, allegedly beat one of the workers and destroyed several company cars in the ensuing confrontation.

Journalist Chea Sytha and villagers Proeung Pran and Sok Pisey were charged with intentional acts of violence, damaging property and encroaching on public property. Villagers said the three men were still in pretrial detention as of yesterday and that a fourth villager had been arrested but released.

Oeun Sokun, 47, the wife of the journalist, begged for her husband’s release.

“Samdech, please help us to get land titles because we live in suffering,” Sokun said. “They burned our houses . . . They even burned our clothes.”

Protester Orn Saravion accused commune authorities of siding with the company and of not helping to solve the problem for villagers, who allege they lived on the land before it became an ELC.

“We started to hit the cars because the car was carrying the gasoline to burn people’s houses,” Saravion said. “Is it wrong to protect our property?”

But Deputy Kampot Governor Sim Vuthy said officials have documentation to prove that the disputed land belongs to the company.

“We arrest them because they committed crimes red-handed,” Vuthy said.

“They destroyed cars and hit authorities and experts who educated them. Therefore, we made a case and sent it to the court and arrested them.”

First Bio-Tech Agricultural could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Villager Saing Phally, 57, said a representative from Hun Sen’s cabinet took their petition and that they would wait to see the results.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there