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National Assembly urges resolution in villagers’ land dispute with official

Ratanakkiri villagers protest in a land dispute case. Photo supplied
Ratanakkiri villagers protest in a land dispute case. Photo supplied

National Assembly urges resolution in villagers’ land dispute with official

Three people, representing 112 migrant families, on Monday submitted a letter to Ratanakkiri province authorities from the National Assembly asking them to investigate and resolve a longstanding land dispute involving a Ministry of Interior official.

Community representatives Nguon Mil, Sot Soeun and You Leang, from Roy village in Bakeo district’s Keh Chung commune, received the letter from National Assembly President Heng Samrin on the same day they sent it to provincial authorities.

The letter was in response to a December 22 request they made to the National Assembly asking the government to issue land titles to the families and create a new village for them, with a pagoda.

In their December letter, the migrant families claim they cleared 575 hectares of forest land between 2006 and 2007 on which to live, farm and mine gemstones. But they allege Heang Socheat, a Ministry of Interior immigration official, later forged documents to take their land.

“We filed the letter asking provincial authorities to establish a committee to measure the land and issue land titles for us,” Soeun said yesterday. “We hope that authorities will do it in accordance with the National Assembly’s letter.”

Tim Sinat, director of the provincial Department of Land Management, confirmed having received a copy of the National Assembly’s letter.

“I have read the letter and will look into solving the dispute again,” he said.

Socheat, who had previously said he was going to resign from his position, couldn’t be reached yesterday, but in 2015 he claimed to have bought the land from ethnic Jarai people in 2007, and accused the migrant families of taking land that was rightfully his.

Soeun, however, claimed that of the 575 hectares the migrant families cleared, Socheat had grabbed 186 hectares using irregular land titles.

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