Representatives of 40 families locked in a decade-old land dispute with a Chinese sugar company in Preah Vihear province blocked tractors from clearing land that the villagers say belongs to them, while 50 families in a separate land dispute in Koh Kong took their complaints to a newly-promoted provincial official.
The ethnic Kuy villagers in Preah Vihear’s Tbaeng Meanchey district were blocking tractors from Chinese state-owned Hengfu Group Sugar Industry, parent company of Lan Feng and Rui Feng, among other firms. Lor Chan, Preah Vihear coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said when families had sought a resolution from authorities in the past, officials “instead blamed one another”.
“If the authorities do not know [how to resolve it], who knows then? I really feel for [the villagers]. They spend time guarding their land without earning a living,” he added.
Meanwhile, in Koh Kong, villager representative Ngin Phalla, 41, said Deputy Provincial Governor Orn Phearak met with her and three others on Tuesday, but had asked villagers to wait until after Sunday.
Roughly 1,000 families were evicted to make way for Union Development Group’s $3.8 billion tourism project in Botum Sakor National Park.
“I told him that we have been facing difficulties for seven years already, so I asked him to solve it for me before the end of 2017. I’m in hard times now,” Phalla said.
Phearak refused to comment when contacted yesterday. Vang Virak, a representative of UDG, also declined to comment because he was “afraid of making a mistake”.