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

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget