Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mondulkiri ‘squatter’ leader fronts court

Mondulkiri ‘squatter’ leader fronts court

People camp under makeshift shelters on an economic land concession in Mondulkiri on Monday. Photo supplied
People camp under makeshift shelters on an economic land concession in Mondulkiri on Monday. Photo supplied

Mondulkiri ‘squatter’ leader fronts court

A Mondulkiri woman is due in court today to face allegations she led more than 200 villagers in squatting on an economic land concession (ELC) in Koh Nhek district.

Rith Vanny, 43, was arrested on Monday morning as authorities showed up to evict 231 people she allegedly persuaded to set up temporary homes on one of three adjacent ELCs spanning 28,000 hectares and belonging to Vietnamese rubber consortium Pacific Peal Joint-Stock Company.

“We detained her for inciting villagers to grab the company’s land and interfering with the lawful work of the company,” deputy provincial police chief Sou Sovan said.

He continued that Vanny and her husband, who he said are originally from Kampong Cham’s Stung Trang district, had erected a makeshift home by the side of National Route 78A in order to sell food and groceries to workers constructing the road.

There had been an agreement with the pair that they would vacate the site at the company’s request, which they refused to honour when it came time for them to leave, instead encouraging others to construct 18 tent-style shelters, Sovan said.

The company had evicted Vanny and the other squatters several times before taking legal action, he added.

“This was the fourth time that she led villagers to grab the company’s land, claiming it was her own and that she had lived there for a long time, although this was not the case,” Sovan said, adding that the majority of squatters left after authorities explained the situation to them and promised they could apply for a social land concession if they truly had no land on which to live or farm.

Chen Pisith, 55, one of the alleged squatters, yesterday insisted that approximately 150 had, in fact, lived in the portion of Rakyor commune now occupied by the ELC until 2011, when authorities began chasing them out and razing their homes.

“Her arrest is not right, because we lived here before the company arrived,” Pisith said. “When the company came the authorities would not recognise our claim.”

However, local authorities have previously said that the evictions Pisith referenced were against persons living illegally on state and company-owned land.

Company representatives could not be reached.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen’s China visit ‘a good opportunity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Beijing on Sunday to discuss economic and trade issues presents a good opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen Chinese ties and counter punitive measures by the West, an analyst says. The prime minister’s four-day official visit to

  • Former chief bodyguard receives royal pardon

    The former chief bodyguard of late Senate president Chea Sim has received a royal pardon nearly eight years after he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on several charges, according to a royal decree dated November 12, last year, and obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

  • Close to the edge: Hair raising pictures from Kulen Mountain

    A new hair raising attraction on Kulen Mountain has finally opened to the public, with people flocking to the protruding cliff edge overlooking green mountainous forests to take photographs. The giant overhanging rock is situated in an area known as Mahendraparvata – an ancient city of

  • US warned not to interfere despite successful meeting

    A senior Ministry of National Defence official said the Tuesday meeting between the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Joseph H Felter and General Neang Phat had helped strengthen relations between the two countries’ militaries. However, a senior Cambodian People’