Kulan district villagers embroiled in a land dispute in Preah Vihear’s Srayong commune say they will follow through with a planned 200-person protest against rubber firm Siladamich Company today despite being threatened with arrest.
Village representative Lem Lom, 32, said yesterday that Srayong commune police and the Srayong commune chief have told villagers they will be arrested if they assemble in groups of three or more.
“[The] police chief in Srayong commune said that villagers do not need to know about the law … only respect the law,” he said. “If they see us as three people in one group, they will … detain us in prison by accusing us of drug smuggling or illegal protest.”
Srayong commune police chief Chan Satya said that police only wanted to prevent violence, but if villagers met in groups of three or more people, police would be in attendance.
“We [do not want to] detain them in the prison, we just want them to be safe, so if we see from 3 to 5 people who are not family members, we have to…[ask] what are they talking about,” he said.
Chum Poy, Kulen district governor, said that while he was unaware of the villagers’ complaint, which revolves around a disputed 454-hectare plot, Siladamich Company received a 9,000-hectare economic land concession from the government in 2009.
A representative for Siladamich Company could not be reach for comment yesterday.