More than 100 families had their homes in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district dismantled by a roughly 300-strong force of armed soldiers and military police officials over the weekend, villagers said yesterday, with only about 30 homes left standing.
Phan Poeun, a representative of families in Kantuot commune’s Svay Chrum village, claimed that on Friday officials had begun to disassemble the families’ homes and ordered villagers to accept 2 million riel in compensation (US$495) in exchange for relocation.
“The armed forces surrounded our homes and threatened to burn our homes down if we declined to dismantle,” he said.
The families, who claim to have lived on the land for more than 10 years, were ordered last month to leave their homes and resettle in Samdech Techo village in order to make way for construction of a provincial office.
Provincial governor Om Mara yesterday declined to specify the number of officials present at the eviction and denied they had delivered threats.
“Our forces have been there to help our villagers to dismantle and transport their households to the new location, not mistreat the villagers,” he said, adding that only 75 families had been living in the village.