About 200 people from Kampong Cham province’s Memot district arrived yesterday at the district governor’s home to hold negotiations in a land dispute, but left when authorities requested they register their land in documents.
The villagers, from Kompoan commune’s Sre Som Chas village, fled the negotiations out of fear the authorities were collecting information about their plots of land for the purpose of later stealing them.
“We didn’t agree to register our land ownership because the district governor wants to play tricks for taking our land for other people,” said village representative Ly Leang.
The village’s 136 families have been locked in a dispute with district authorities since last year, when a 400-hectare land concession was given to 12 individuals. Three of those individuals’ identities are known to the residents, while the rest remain unknown.
Chen Bunara, Memot district governor, said he invited five people to the negotiations, but larger numbers made it difficult to find a resolution. In addition, he cited the villagers’ reluctance to document their properties as a difficulty.
“I want them to register their land ownership and how many hectares they have, but they denied, so we couldn’t find a resolution,” he said.
In January, Ly Leang was released from police detention after villagers campaigned for his discharge by blocking National Road 7. He claimed that four military police officials stopped his motorbike, handcuffed him and put him in a car.