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

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not