Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers clear land claimed by military in Banteay Srei

Villagers clear land claimed by military in Banteay Srei

Villagers clear land claimed by military in Banteay Srei

Siem Reap Province
MORE than 50 families in Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srei district cleared sections of a 150-hectare area of disputed land on Monday, despite efforts by Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers to prevent them from doing so, villagers said Monday.

Sor Sovann said Prime Minister Hun Sen had awarded the land to the families in 2006, but that there had been ongoing disputes with soldiers who claim it is state-owned.

He said villagers had waited for four years before trying to use the land because they had been afraid of confrontations with soldiers.

However, because the dispute had not been resolved, despite numerous complaints to provincial and other authorities, they finally decided to begin clearing the land on Sunday, he said.

“We have no choice this time. That’s why we decided to clear that land to build the houses on, because we don’t have houses or land to make rice,” he said.

Ouk Aun, the second deputy director of the Banteay Srei office of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, who is responsible for protecting forest areas there, maintained that the land had never been awarded to the families. Nevertheless, he ordered his soldiers to retreat from the confrontation on Monday in order to avoid violence.

“I just told my soldiers to be calm, but if the villagers come with machetes, and the soldiers go with guns, we cannot predict the result,” he said.

Heab Tha, the chief of Tbeng commune, where the land is located, also said it belonged to the state, and that the villagers were already living on the land that had been issued to them.

“The prime minister gave them land nearby the disputed land, and they are living on it. I don’t know why they went to clear the disputed land,” he said.

Bun Tharith, deputy governor of Siem Reap province, said Monday that officials hope to resolve the situation quickly.

“It is state land, and the soldiers asked permission from Forestry Administration officials to plant some trees on that land because it is located in the Phnom Kulen National Park,” he said.

Siem Reap provincial Adhoc monitor Suos Narin also sided with the soldiers, noting that they had planted trees in the area since 2002.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,