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Protesters block road with house

Protesters block road with house

More than 1,000 villagers from Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces blocked National Road 76 with a house yesterday in protest over a land dispute.

Villagers from Pi Thnou commune in Kratie province’s Snuol district and Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district – who joined the protest to support Kratie villagers – demonstrated in Pi Thnou commune yesterday morning to request that the Sovann Vuthy Company stop clearing land in the commune.

The residents transported a house into the road but agreed to re-open the throughfare  about midday after company representatives removed machinery from the village.

Snuol district governor Ie Sovann said yesterday the Sovann Vuthy Company had received a 7,250-hectare economic land concession from the government in 2009 to grow rubber trees.

He added that the firm was only attempting to clear land for villagers in accordance with a government policy that awarded 2,250 hectares of the concession to affected residents, but it had sparked community concern.

Mam Hai, 26, a villager from Pi Thnou commune, said yesterday the company had not listened to the villagers’ request to remove the machinery until demonstrators blocked the road.

“They said they had received an economic land concession from the government, but they don’t have any documentation to show us, so the vill-agers tried to protest,” Mam Hai said.

Since the beginning of last year, there had been 15 cases of villagers blocking roads in nine  provinces in an attempt to resolve land disputes, Ouch Leng, head of the land programme at rights group Adhoc, said yesterday.

“Even though they know the road closure affects travellers and they face legal action, they still do it, because they have no hope in a government that does not tackle land disputes on time,” he said.

Contact details for the Sovann Vuthy Company were not available.

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