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Villagers protest alleged land grab

Villagers protest alleged land grab

More than 150 families from Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district were confronted by authorities when they staged a protest on Monday demanding compensation from agro-industrial giant Sinimexim Investment Co Ltd for bulldozing their plantation land.

District Governor On Phearak said authorities had to intervene to uphold the company’s right to bulldoze.

“We do not have the right to stop the bulldozers, because the company has the right to develop the land. We suggest the residents return home to file complaints,” Phearak said.

However, Andong Teuk commune resident Prum Sat, 47, said he has been living on the land for more than 30 years.

“Our livelihood depends on this plantation, and now the company has begun to destroy [our land]. We stopped them, but not with violence,” Sat said.

Nget Saret, 50, witnessed company bulldozers begin clearing land on Sunday.

“They used a bulldozer to clear our land and fields immediately. Where is our compensation?” Saret asked.

Neang Boratino, a coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said that the representatives of 163 families remained peaceful during the demonstration.

The company purchased 4,280 hectares of land in Andong Teuk, Thma Sar and Ta Noun communes from the government on July 22, 2011, to develop it for agro-industrial and rubber
plantation production.

In a separate incident in Botum Sakor’s Kandorl commune, Ing Kong Chet, a coordinator for rights group Licadho, told the Post that five men were questioned by police over allegations that they destroyed crops owned by businessman Heng Huy.

Hem Kham, 53, Tith Ry, 48, Sim Min, 49, Sith Ra, 53, and Phoun Ra, 48, are being accused by Huy of destroying mango and jackfruit trees.

Kham maintained that the accusations were unfounded.

“It’s unfair, we did not destroy it, because this crop belonged to us for many years.”

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