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Protest blocked by security guards

Protest blocked by security guards

About 250 villagers who turned out in Preah Vihear province’s Srayong commune to protest against alleged land-grabbing by rubber firm Siladamich Company yesterday found themselves blocked by company security guards and police, though arrests threatened a day earlier failed to materialise, villagers said.

Villager representative Meas Ren, 50, said their path had been blocked by three company security guards, four police officers, two military police and Srayong commune chief Sat Ty, who told villagers they had no right to protest because the 454-hectare plot in question is part of a 9,000-hectare land concession granted to Siladamich.

Meas Ren added that she believed police had hoped to arrest a village representative but had not due to the disparity in numbers.

Meas Ren said that the confrontation, which began at approximately 12:00pm, was defused when Kulen district governor Chum Poy met with villagers.

He told them he had ordered company staffers to stop clearing the villager’s rice paddies and that he would ask the company to provide that land to villagers, something Meas Ren said directly contradicted earlier statements by commune chief Sat Ty.

“The Strayong commune chief threatened us that, even though we protest until we die, we cannot get that land back,”she said.

District governor Chum Poy told the Post yesterday that he has no power to find a resolution for the villagers, and that his only duty is to coordinate discussions between the villagers and company as the land is an economic concession from the central government.

Srayong commune chief Sat Ty, commune police chief Chan Satya and representatives for Siladamich Company could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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