Minor clashes broke out yesterday between Vietnamese authorities and villagers from Tbong Khmum province who were attempting to visit a disputed area of land on which they claim their crops were recently destroyed with toxic chemicals.
More than 400 Memot district villagers, accompanied by opposition lawmakers Mu Sochua, Mao Monyvann, Vann Narith and Ngor Kimcheang, visited the area but were blocked by Vietnamese authorities who they say “poisoned” their crops last month.
The two groups physically pushed at one another before the villagers eventually reached the disputed land after the Vietnamese authorities relented and allowed them to pass.
They are “angry because of losing their farmland. Actually, [the disputed area] is clearly on Khmer land”, Sochua said after the visit.
She added that only Vietnamese soldiers were seen on the land.
Villagers said that their families had farmed on the land for decades.
Choam commune Chief Prak Vanny declined to comment on who the rightful owner of the land was but said Cambodian villagers had been farming there long before it was declared a neutral zone.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is currently in the US, announced last week that he would use the “culture of dialogue” with Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss the “border problem” among other issues.