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Villagers fear arrest over land dispute

Villagers fear arrest over land dispute

FOUR representatives of villagers locked in a land dispute in Banteay Meanchey fear they have been summonsed to district police headquarters to be arrested, although police said they only want to warn them against protesting violently.

Sanh Vanna, one of the community representatives in Banteay Chhmar commune, said they had received a summons from Thmar Pouk district police chief Yort Ray over their land dispute with Cheat Development Company and would meet with them today.

“I am afraid they might play a trick on us or arrest us when we go to meet them,” she said, adding that the villagers were using more than 4,000 hectares of land that had been awarded to the company.

Cheat Development Company began clearing land about three months ago, Khun Thom, another community representative, said.

“More than 500 families are affected, but have not received compensation from them and the authorities have not found a resolution for us,” he said.

Yort Ray, Thmar Pouk district police chief, said he would not question the community representatives, but would only urge them not to protest.

“I am afraid to have something violent happen to villagers and the company,” he said.

If police could not resolve the issue, he said, they would find another way to help, but he did not specify how.

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