The Kratie Provincial Court questioned five ethnic Phnong villagers yesterday following a complaint by a Vietnamese rubber company that they had taken land granted by its concession.
Yi Yun, one of the five in court, admitted the company had a concession, but said that it was “near” villagers’ land in Chet Borei district’s Thmey commune.
Yun claimed that the Dau Tu Daigon Bing Phouc Company had placed tractors on villagers’ land to clear it for a plantation.
“We pulled of the tractor out of the land, so the company filed a complaint against us,” he said, adding that some 200 families have claims to the disputed land.
“We just prevented the clearing of our ancestral land . . . and graveyards of our people.”
Hean Cheavkun, coordinator for human rights group Adhoc in Kratie, said the company received a 10,000-hectare land concession in 2007, later reduced to 5,436 hectares.
“Ethnic villagers’ livelihoods depend on the forest,” she said, adding that while the company had cleared 100 hectares already, Adhoc had provided villagers a lawyer.