More than 300 people from communities in a land dispute with Memot Rubber Plantation Co blocked a portion of National Road 7 in Tbong Khmum province’s Tbong Khmum district yesterday to put pressure on authorities to grant them legal land titles
The protesters, who represent 638 families from different parts of Khnong Kropeu village, marched to Tbong Khmum’s Memot district hall and demanded titles to cover 20 hectares of land from which they are facing eviction by the rubber plantation company.
The almost three-hour-long roadblock was provoked by the district governor saying he’s unable to settle the matter, according to Khnong Kropeu community representative Phuong Manit.
“We wanted to make him know about people’s suffering . . . because nowadays, we are living with the fear of losing our lands and houses,” Manit said.
To disband the protest, Memot District Governor Cheng Bunnara has promised residents a resolution within two weeks.
“We have already compromised with the people, and we will offer the resolution,” Bunnara said.
Residents warned that they would protest again if a solution isn’t reached within the promised time.
“We will block the road again or go to the National Assembly for intervention,” said Chhut Srey Oun, another village representative. “Over the past two months, the authorities came here to get the statistics and data after getting the orders from the National Assembly. They promised to offer us land titles, but we haven’t heard from them ever since.”
The Khnong Kropeu residents have been living and growing crops on the disputed lands since 1979, said Sum Manet, president of the Cambodian Farmers Association.
“Rubber Plantation Co, has money for investing on hundreds of hectares of land so why are they targeting these 20 hectares and not settling the matter for the people? Constitutionally, the people have the right to live legally on their land.”