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Villagers gather to block tycoon’s firm

Villagers gather to block tycoon’s firm

In the latest chapter of a long-running land dispute between villagers in Svay Rieng province’s Romeas Hek district and a prominent tycoon’s rubber company, about 180 residents who have refused to resettle protested yesterday after a company bulldozer razed a villager’s barn on Monday.

Resident Ros Srey Mao, 27,  told the Post that villagers gathered to block the Peam Cheang Rubber Plantation Company, owned by business tycoon An Maradi, from bulldozing more property.

“This land belongs to our villagers, but in 2007, An Mardi’s company took our land,” she said.

Romeas Hek district deputy governor Lek Saran said the government granted a land concession to the tycoon’s rubber company in 2007, spanning 4,000 hectares and three communes – Ampil, Koki and Tros.

While the government provided resettlement plots in Tras commune to villagers with houses on the conceded land, he said it did not provide plots to those who only owned undeveloped land or rice fields.

Prak Saran, provincial coordinater for rights group Adhoc, said that about 60 per cent of the affected villagers in the three communes have agreed to resettlement plots, but some villagers were disappointed “because the land the government gave them was smaller than their original plot”.

The residents of Ampil commune’s Romeas Hek village, however, have not agreed to resettle, prompting yesterday’s stand-off.

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