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Land dispute erupts into violence

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A total of 106 families from Preah Sihanouk province’s Mittapheap district on Monday requested that provincial authorities allocate them land. Photo supplied

Land dispute erupts into violence

Four villagers filed complaints on Monday afternoon as an ongoing land dispute became violent in Sihanoukville town.

Lim Veasna, a representative of the 106 families involved, told The Post on Tuesday that villagers gathered together in Sihanoukville town‘s Village 1, Commune 1, Group 18, to demand a solution to an ongoing land dispute with Chan Vibol, Group 18 chief.

Veasna claims that Vibol’s son confronted the crowd: “After the meeting, Chan Vibol’s four sons and one journalist interviewed me. I told him I already gave an interview and so would not give any more.

“They then followed us and after one more argument, one of Chan Vibol’s sons kicked a 60-year-old woman.”

Commune 1 police chief Prak Vuthea told The Post that villagers filed a complaint after the confrontation.

“I received the complaint and I need to question a couple more people. This is a land dispute which led to violence. I sent the case to the city police chief, but the city police sent the complaint back to commune police before it goes to court."

“This morning, I received a complaint from four victims. This case involved violations from both parties, I will question the suspects in the morning . . . According to [preliminary] investigations, both sides were injured and used force,” he said.

Vibol’s letter

The unrest relates to a land dispute between the villagers and Vibol. On Monday, Veasna said that Vibol had reportedly received a letter from National Assembly President Heng Samrin which he used to falsely allocate land to his relatives.

“Vibol went to ask for a letter from Samdech Heng Samrin, and then he obtained the letter. He requested [Samrin] to distribute the land to 172 families, but the letter didn’t mention the names of the real landowners. They’re only [Vibol’s] relatives’ names,” Veasna said.

Veasna said that following this, the villagers collected thumbprints and submitted them to the provincial governor to review the land distribution which only resulted in Vibol panicking and allocating some families land to build houses, but not others.

“The people requested the National Assembly to allocate them more than 9ha of land, but Vibol only allotted land to his relatives to build houses, while we, the real owners, did not receive any land, and we were barred by Vibol from entering our farmland,” he said.

Sun Sophat, a community representative in Preah Sihanouk province who has been monitoring the families’ protest, on Monday explained the reason for it.

“People are questioning why some from that area have been allocated land, but those who have been living there for almost 10 years have not been allotted any land and are not able to build houses,” he said.

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