Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oddar Meanchey villagers to leave contested forest

Oddar Meanchey villagers to leave contested forest

Oddar Meanchey villagers to leave contested forest

MILITARY families have agreed to vacate a section of protected forest land in Oddar Meanchey province after Forestry Administration officials filed a series of complaints against them, and one of two men accused of fraudulently selling the land denied the allegation on Monday.

The complaints were filed to the Interior Ministry and the Siem Reap provincial court last week, following an altercation in which members of the families allegedly opened fire on Forestry Administration officials and physically assaulted 10 of them.

Von Bunthoeun, the chief of the Forestry Administration office in Samraong town, said an agreement was reached with the families last Thursday.

“We have a contract with Hean Sok, the deputy of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Samraong, who encouraged about 200 soldiers and their families to shelter illegally in the protected forest community, and they will tear down the huts,” he said.

“There is no deadline yet, but they must tear down the huts as soon as possible.”

Hean Sok confirmed Sunday that the families would move, though he denied having pocketed money for the land from the families.

Von Bonthoeun had previously accused Hean Sok and Kim Saruon, the chief of a village located some 50 kilometres away from the protected forest area, of taking between US$300 and $350 for 30-metre-by-50-metre plots of land.

“We did not sell the land to villagers. They came to live by themselves,” Hean Sok said. “People accused me of persuading people and soldiers to live here and sell the land to the villagers, but in the name of RCAF it isn’t true.”

Kim Saruon could not be reached on Monday.

Forestry officials have said the section of land was granted protected status last June, but that 10 families moved there in late 2009. That number has since climbed to 200.

Thon Nol, the governor of Samraong town, said officials were looking for new land for the families. He added that they might be offered
somewhere to stay in a temporary settlement until suitable plots are located.

“We will try our best to move them from the protected forest area soon,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman