Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mondulkiri villagers say officials burned their homes

Mondulkiri villagers say officials burned their homes

Mondulkiri villagers say officials burned their homes

A group of 31 villagers of the Phnong ethnic minority have filed a petition to Mondulkiri provincial authorities to demand the removal of the local environment department director after rangers allegedly torched their homes during a wedding in Sen Monorom district.

While the 22 families of Sokdum commune’s Laoka village attended a wedding on Thursday, a group of eight rangers burned down cottages and houses belonging to seven families, according to village chief Kleum Meul. His brother and nephew’s homes are among them. “They destroyed rice in the sacks, pots, mats, and other stuff. They abused us like they did in the Pol Pot regime,” he said.

Rangers accused the villagers of living in the protected area illegally, Meul said, adding that villagers had settled on the land several years ago under an agreement with then-environment minister Mok Maret.

Chhit Sophal, the director of the provincial environment department, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Samrang Dyvichet, Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary director, acknowledged that his rangers did burn some huts – but not houses – which he claimed were built two months ago.

“The huts were recently built and were set on fire on the recommendation from the provincial governor and the [Ministry of Environment],” Dyvichet said.

However, ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap said such action did not follow ministry policy.

If the villagers were found to be living on the land illegally, “we cannot go and burn those things down right away like that”, he said.

Provincial hall administrative director Hak Sophan said that Sen Monorom authorities had been asked to investigate.

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with