Around 20 people representing 250 villagers from Preah Vihear’s Choam Ksan district petitioned Prime Minister Hun Sen for a solution to the razing of their village in 2012, which was done under instructions from current provincial CPP lawmaker Suos Yara and local officials.
The petition states that the demolition of Svay Chrum village, which is close to the Preah Vihear temple was overseen by Yara and Choch Phoeun, who heads the National Authority for Preah Vihear.
Phan Thoeun, a village representative, said they had been requesting a solution for the last few years. “The King and Samdech [Sar Kheng] helped intervene already and the provincial governor ignores and overlooks the problem and he does not listen,” he said.
However, a 2016 statement from the Preah Vihear National Authority and provincial hall shows that Kheng only ordered the Land Management Ministry’s dispute resolution mechanism to look into the matter.
Another villager, Eam Savang, said the village had been razed because it was within the temple’s protected area. Authorities had offered them compensation and land in another village, which was rejected because it was too far away and did not come with farmland.
Yara, who at the time was an under-secretary at the Council of Ministers, said the “gang” was fabricating the land dispute and that the villagers had been given compensation.
“I have told them not to make the land dispute of Preah Vihear political and not to make this land into a protest site like Boeung Kak or elsewhere,” he said.
Provincial Governor Unon Chanda could not be reached and Unesco representatives did not respond to requests for comment.