Villagers representing 72 families in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district yesterday demanded compensation from the local governor after he allegedly led armed security forces to burn down their homes on June 11.
The complaints were submitted to the district and provincial governments against Keo Seima District Governor Sin Vanvuth and contained evidence that he had led the forced eviction, according to village representative Vit Phanna.
“Our houses were not huts as he said. I took pictures of the incident and his men when they destroyed my house. I just want to keep the land and live normally, so I can live a law-abiding life,” Phanna said.
On June 11, Vanvuth allegedly led about 40 mixed security forces to demolish and burn 45 out of 72 houses in the area, reportedly on behalf of a developer that is yet to be named.
Most of the families in the area are Khmer, while a minority of ethnic Phnong and Stieng people also signed the complaints.
Before the eviction, the authorities informed the villagers they needed to move three times, but they were “pig-headed” and stubbornly refused to move, Vanvuth said yesterday.
“They can sue if they have evidence. We did not damage their properties. They were just logging huts, because they are all loggers in the dense forest.”
However, photos from the scene show several sturdy wooden and corrugated metal stilt houses in various states of demolition.