Activists from two local rights groups yesterday accused soldiers in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district of seizing their cameras and stopping them from investigating a land dispute.
Chhay Thy, Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said Mean Prommony of Adhoc and Sovan Bun Thai of Licadho had tried to visit a community protesting against Vietnamese firm Hoang Anh Lumphat, part of Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), which villagers allege has appropriated more than 100 hectares of their land.
“The villagers protested and demanded their land back, so we went there to investigate. But we were blocked by 20 soldiers and 10 other security forces who threatened us and grabbed our cameras and phones,” Thy said.
He claimed that the soldiers had set up a 9-hectare military base on their land in the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary amid protests.
Kong Srun, Lumphat district governor, said that soldiers had been ordered to guard the area after the Ministry of Defence gave the order to the Ministry of Environment.