Villages in Siem Reap yesterday welcomed a provincial court ruling that ordered the return of 300 hectares of land that local authorities had seized in 2011
“For more than five years we did not have land for rice farming,” said Mean Cheng, a representative for the 82 affected families. “Now we have the land, and this is our new hope.”
The families’ response followed a ruling on Wednesday. The provincial authorities originally seized the land in Spean Tnort commune for conservation purposes.
Villagers said that they used the land in Chi Kreng district near the Tonle Sap lake for dry season rice farming.
Village chief Yung Heang said that during the five years villagers were forbidden to farm the land, they had been forced to do other jobs to compensate, such as selling small goods.
The ruling comes about a month after Prime Minister Hun Sen, on his 25-province tour, pledged to return land around the Tonle Sap to local residents.
“The land in the Tonle Sap region must be taken from companies and investors and left for the people to farm,” the premier noted in a Facebook post in July.