More than 50 people involved in land disputes in Tbong Khmum and Svay Rieng provinces gathered on Wednesday to submit a petition at the ministries of Justice; Interior; and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, requesting a solution.
Khiev Sarun, a representative from Svay Rieng province, told The Post on Wednesday that the people gathered in front of the ministries to seek intervention as they no longer had confidence in the ministry’s subordinate officials.
“We jointly submitted a petition this time because we are all similarly involved in land disputes. Some community representatives of Tbong Khmum province have been arrested and imprisoned. We came here to seek justice for them too,” she said.
Tbong Khmum community representative Sem Chamnan said the people are worried that they would be summoned and imprisoned by the authorities without having reached a solution over the dispute.
“We would like to seek justice from the ministry to help resolve the issue surrounding the undue imprisonment of our representatives. We also declare our objection against the court’s ruling for withholding the people’s ownership to their land,” he said.
Chamnan said the groups wanted to also follow up on a previous petition submitted in December last year and to submit a new one for the ministries’ intervention.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin told The Post on Wednesday that the ministry could not intervene in court decisions.
Regarding their request for intervention in the land disputes, Malin said it would be forwarded to the relevant institutions or the provincial administration to resolve.
The land dispute in Svay Rieng began in 2010 and involves a Chinese company and 440 families on more than 600ha, said Sarun.
The dispute in Tbong Khmum, meanwhile, started in 2011 on more than 1,000ha. The dispute similarly involves a Chinese company and three villages – Sre Praing, Boss Snaor, Trapaing Pring – in Dambe district.
Chan Heng, the deputy cabinet director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told The Post on Wednesday that the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction had already announced the cases as “resolved”.
“The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction issued a press release saying that the petition was just to provoke unrest as they had already resolved the disputes. But we [Ministry of Agriculture] still received the petition so we could review it.
“We will assign technical officials to visit the sites and conduct an investigation to ascertain the Land Ministry’s statement. If anything new comes up, we will resolve it,” said Heng.