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Mondulkiri authorities identify man behind ‘encroaching’

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A disputed land at Phnom Dos Kramom in Mondulkiri Province. Supplied

Mondulkiri authorities identify man behind ‘encroaching’

Mondulkiri authorities on Monday claimed that they “had taken actions” to put an end to instances of encroachment on the portion of land on Phnom (mountain) Dos Kramom that was initially allocated by the government for the Hill Tribes Cultural Centre.

Sen Monorom town governor Long Vibol said a local resident who lived next to the disputed land boundary was one of those responsible for the encroachment, and that the man had been ordered to remove the steel fence he had erected over time to mark his claim to the plot.

“He had been extending the demarcation fence to encroach on the area, but on Monday, I went to inspect the disputed site and found that the fence had been dismantled,” Vibol said.

Kroeung Tola, the cultural centre’s representative, told The Post that provincial governor Svay Sam Eang on Saturday had “threatened” to arrest him.

Tola said the “threat” was made in response to his Facebook post dated May 2, claiming that “there were people secretly erecting demarcation posts to encroach on land on the mountain for private ownership”, which Sam Eang regarded as a false accusation.

On Sunday, Tola continued, Sam Eang ordered the dismantling of the fence after some officials inspected the area.

“I had been reporting [about the encroachment] since mid-April until May 5, but he [Sam Eang] did not seem to show any interest [in learning about the case]. I took the criticism to Facebook, then on Saturday evening, he threatened me. He said he would order the authorities to arrest me.

“I responded ‘arresting me is normal . . . when Your Excellency solve this problem, I would stop criticising Your Excellency’,” he said.

Kroeung Tola said the encroached plot measured more than 0.5ha and the person responsible for it is “a rich civil servant who is well connected to a senior official in the province”.

However, the land activist said he was unaware of the names of the civil servant and the high-ranking government official.

Neither Sam Eang nor Sok Sera, the provincial hall spokesperson, could not be reached for comment.

In 2004, the government announced it would allocate 102ha from the foot of Dos Kramom mountain to the peak for the Hill Tribes Cultural Centre, but there were now more than 100 families and two karaoke clubs encroaching on the land, resulting in only 87ha remaining.

Eang Mengly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said authorities should expedite the solution of the land dispute on Dos Kramom mountain as ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“I think people are demanding the return of all the land that was indicated by the government, and now they are encroaching on that land. The [ethnic] people want to see a real resolution,” he said.

On February 28, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the provincial governor to reclaim the disputed territory as common property without “ever fearing of people with stripes”, referring to high-ranking officials.

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