OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy uprooted six demarcation poles on the Cambodia-Vietnam border Sunday after leading his party’s Kathen festival procession to the Ang Rumdenh pagoda in Svay Rieng province’s Sam Raung commune, Chantrea district, saying that the poles were placed illegally by Vietnamese authorities.
Sam Rainsy said Monday that the poles he removed were not border markers accepted by both countries but had been erected only recently by Vietnam.
“As I was putting a money offering in a monk’s bowl, people approached me and asked me for help. I asked them, ‘With what do you need my help?’ And they told me, ‘[The Vietnamese] took Khmers’ land’”, Sam Rainsy said, adding that the residents’ rice fields and the pagoda were located about 100 metres from the border.
Sam Rainsy said the people who lost their land told him that a few months ago, about 10 officials from Vietnam and one Cambodian came to measure their land and then set up poles on it, declaring that the area fell within the “white zone” – a buffer strip whose use is denied to people from either nation.
Sam Rainsy said that these poles were not official and that people in the area told him they had already removed similar poles earlier this year.
Svay Rieng provincial Governor Cheang Am said he did not know why Sam Rainsy uprooted the poles, which had been set up by a joint committee of Cambodians and Vietnamese, but that Sam Rainsy must be held responsible before the law.
“These poles are difficult to put up. They were plotted properly, in accordance with procedure,” he said.