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Takeo villagers decry border demarcation

Takeo villagers decry border demarcation

A GROUP of 17 families in Takeo province’s Borei Cholsa district say demarcation posts planted this week on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border are encroaching on their land.

Villagers say the border markers were planted on Tuesday, and that provincial authorities prevented them from protesting and accessing the areas at which the posts were placed.

“I have 3 hectares of land, but if this border demarcation is final, I could lose 2 hectares,” said Im Park, a resident of the district who said he had been farming his land since 1983. “I have only this land, so if I lose this land, how can I live?”

Takeo provincial governor Srey Ben said Wednesday that Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities had only been on a surveying mission, and had not yet planted any border posts.

“No one planted any posts – they just went to study,” Srey Ben said.

But Keo Kim, another Borei Cholsa resident, said local authorities had already planted the posts and had ordered residents not to protest the demarcation.

“If we dare to protest, they said they would imprison us,” Keo Kim said. “I don’t know why – I’ve been farming this land since 1984.”

In October, opposition leader Sam Rainsy joined villagers from Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district in uprooting border posts that he said had been installed illegally. In January, the provincial court sentenced the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) president, who is currently living abroad, to two years in prison in connection with the incident on charges of racial incitement and destruction of property.

Two villagers from Chantrea district received one-year jail terms for their participation in the protest.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Wednesday that his party had only recently heard about the Takeo villagers’ concerns, but planned to investigate.