Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers say slaying tied to land disputes

Villagers say slaying tied to land disputes

Villagers say slaying tied to land disputes

A 60-YEAR-OLD man in Battambang province was shot and killed on Monday night by four unknown assailants in an attack that villagers linked to land disputes that stretch back to 2007.

Pich Sophon, a representative of families living in Chamlan Romeang Lea village in Battambang’s Samlot district, had been instrumental in advocating on behalf of 141 families involved in three land disputes – two with military officials in Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Region 5 and another with an unidentified Korean company, villagers and a rights worker said.

Sin Mey, who has served as a representative of the village, said Pich Sophon was killed while returning home after they had worked to collect thumbprints for a complaint to be filed against RCAF Region 5 and the Korean company.

“They shot him because they want to threaten the villagers so we will stop demanding to keep our land,” said Sin Mey, who said he too had been shot by unknown gunmen during an attack on April 4.

THEY SHOT HIM BECAUSE THEY WANT TO THREATEN THE VILLAGERS."

He added that Pich Sophon had been hit by bullets from an AK-47 three times in the chest and once in the hand.
Khat Sokhom, another resident of Chamlan Romeang Lea village, said she and the other families had been living in the village since 2005, when local officials offered them 5 hectares of farmland each along with 30-by-70-metre plots in exchange for US$93.

Villagers said the military and the Korean company had been trying to evict them from their land since 2007.

Hen Sophan, the governor of Samlot district, said Tuesday that he had been informed of the shooting, but denied that the villagers had made the payments of $93.

“The villagers who live in those villages do not have a land dispute,” he added. “They live on their land, and nobody took over their land.”

However, Chan Soveth, a senior investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said the disputes had been ongoing since 2007.

He expressed concern that the recent shootings had been intended to discourage villagers from staging protests.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh authorities ban march for Human Rights Day

    Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless. The UN

  • Phnom Penh’s Jet’s Container Night Market shuts down

    The famous Jet’s Container Night Market in central Phnom Penh has shut down due to the high cost of the land rental, company representatives claim. Jet’s Container Night Market is the largest such market in Phnom Penh. It operated for just over two

  • Hun Sen rejects ‘rift’ rumours spread by ‘stupid gangsters’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday denied a “rift” among top leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and rejected claims that Senate president Say Chhum and Interior Minister Sar Kheng were set to be removed from their positions as rumours spread by “gangsters”.

  • EU ambassador to Cambodia: Rights a ‘work in progress’

    The EU ambassador to Cambodia has called human rights “a work in progress” and said the 28-nation bloc has “carefully” noted last week’s statement by the government on taking further steps to strengthen democracy and the political sphere in the Kingdom. The EU marked