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Locals say homes burnt

Locals say homes burnt

About 40 villagers from Kratie province, including Steang ethnic villagers, embroiled in a land dispute with private developer CIV Company  claimed yesterday that they were threatened with guns and had their houses set on fire by military police and company staff.

My Born, 55, a resident of Meanchey village in Snoul district’s Srecha commune, said that military police had set fire to six houses and threatened to burn her home. “They said that I took state land,” she said.

A resident known as Sarenket said that villagers had been banned from growing cassava on disputed land.

“They said that if the households did not stop [farming], they would be shot and their families paid only US$5,000 in compensation,” he said.

CIV Company was given a 1,000-hectare rubber concession in the area in 2008. Villagers protested in front of CIV headquarters in 2009 after the company cleared four hectares of cassava plantations.

Villager Leng Sarin, 50, said that families would protest at the provincial governor’s office today. Iev Sopum, Snuol district governor, said that he would invite families, local authorities and company representatives to a meeting on April 28.

Heng Vanna, a representative from CIV Company, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

And Tea, Kratie provincial military police commander, said that he was not aware of the dispute.

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