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Land dispute: Villagers soured on authorities

Land dispute: Villagers soured on authorities

Disgruntled villagers embroiled in a land dispute refused to meet with district authorities on Tuesday, claiming negotiations would be useless as the company had already bulldozed the disputed land.
   
Thma Puok district offficials in Banteay Meanchey province said they had planned to meet villagers in Thlork village, in Banteay Chhmar commune, in order to measure their land and exclude it from plantation development.

But villagers had not attended the meeting because they did not believe the authorities could negotiate a solution for them, as their rice fields had already been cleared.

More than 300 villagers protested on Sunday and Monday, attempting to stop the company clearing their land and have local authorities intervene.

When the local authorities failed to intervene until after the land had been razed, villagers said this demonstrated the authorities were aligned with the company’s interests, not the citizens’.  

The district governor, however, denied any wrongdoing.

“We are not aligned with the company,” he said. “If the company really has affected the villagers’ land, we will protest too.”

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