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Kandal families allege official intimidation

Villagers protest over an ongoing land dispute on Wednesday in Kandal province.
Villagers protest over an ongoing land dispute on Wednesday in Kandal province. Ven Chhunhe

Kandal families allege official intimidation

Sixteen families in Kandal have accused a purported Interior Ministry official of sending soldiers to intimidate them to take their land, though the official denied the claims and said no such dispute existed at all.

Soy Chamroeun said soldiers on Wednesday descended on land belonging to her and others in Lvea Em district’s Prek Takov commune while they were protesting a land dispute with Bun Ravuth, who she described as a “senior” official at the Interior Ministry.

“Bun Ravuth often deploys armed forces to intimidate, destroy farmland, [and] pull out the crops and fences repeatedly . . . to make sure that we cannot live in peace,” Chamroeun said, describing Wednesday’s visit as only the latest attempt to scare them from the land.

However, Ravuth, who also said he worked at the Interior Ministry but declined to reveal his position, denied the accusations and said he had no claims to land there. “If you do not believe me, you can ask the local authorities. When I go, I will sue the woman,” he said.

Commune Chief Hun Huey said the land belongs to the villagers and that he was also not aware of Ravuth’s involvement in any dispute over the land.

Yeun Sokhun, another protester, said the land was given to the families by Prime Minister Hun Sen after 2008 after a dispute over it with a company named Sin Dai – but that the Kandal provincial government later sold the land to Ravuth, rekindling their problems.

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