Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers getting ready for DM Group hearing

Villagers getting ready for DM Group hearing

Villagers getting ready for DM Group hearing

The Ratanakkiri Provincial Court has issued letters to 11 ethnic Tampuon villagers from the province’s Lumphat district, instructing them to prepare for a hearing over
accusations of using violence on the property of rubber company DM Group.

The letters – dated February 26 this year but received by villagers only this week – were meant to tell the villagers that “the time for questions and investigations were over and to prepare themselves for the hearing”, said investigating judge Loch Lao, who did not mention when the hearing would be held.

Tven Vev, a 40-year-old villager from the Batang commune, received one of the issued letters a few days ago.

“The letters say we are being accused of using violence on [DM Group’s] properties. But I have done nothing wrong,” said Vev. “This is a form of intimidation to threaten us so we would not demand our land back.”

DM Group first began setting up rubber plantations in the district in 2005 and have been steadily acquiring land in three communes occupied by indigenous Tampuon
villagers.

For five years now, villagers have been protesting the concessions, saying the company wrangled over 300 hectares of land from them with unfair compensation.

In January, two Adhoc activists and a radio reporter accused of inciting these villagers to violence in 2009 had their charges dropped after prosecutors found there was a lack of evidence.

Chhay Thy, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, agreed the case was being used to scare the villagers into submission.

“The court does not have anything to pin on the villagers besides a few photos of felled rubber trees,” added Thy.

Thy went on to challenge the court: “If the court has any evidence it should go ahead and sentence them.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen ready to ‘break record’, says Rainsy lost

    Caretaker prime minister Hun Sen used a meeting with 18,400 factory workers on Wednesday to predict that he would beat the record for being the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader. He also used the platform to slam political opponent Sam Rainsy who he said had lost

  • Sihanoukville land prices skyrocketing amid breakneck development

    Sihanoukville, the Kingdom’s most famous beach destination for tourists, is seemingly becoming a paradise for Chinese investors as well. The huge influx of Chinese investors has caused property values to rise, especially the price of land, which has nearly doubled in some places near

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by