Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers urged to accept fate

Villagers urged to accept fate

A villager from Preah Vihear province
A villager from Preah Vihear province points out examples of evictions on a protest poster yesterday during a demonstration in front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh. Eli Meixler

Villagers urged to accept fate

Opposition lawmaker and head of the National Assembly’s human rights commission Eng Chhay Eang yesterday urged a community from Preah Vihear to stop protesting against their eviction and accept compensation.

Villagers from Choam Ksan district have been railing against the government’s decision to evict them from land, saying that the area would not be reclassified as a heritage site as promised but handed over to powerful individuals or private companies.

But Chhay Eang said the commission had investigated the case, including by visiting the site, and concluded that the concerns were unfounded.

“The authorities have not taken the land to rent or sell to any company. They’ve taken it for conservation purposes,” he said, adding that experts had found the 500-plus-hectare site to have cultural and historical significance.

“We ask people to stop protesting and to go to accept appropriate compensation from the government,” he said.

If he turned out to be wrong and the land was sold to individuals or companies, Chhay Eang added, he himself would lead protests demanding the land be returned to the roughly 250 families affected.
Villagers have been offered alternative land to farm and live on, he added.

“Let the [authorities] conserve [that area],” he said. “I told them to give them appropriate compensation.”

Any further protesting would be a waste of time, he added.

Villagers involved, however, did not agree that a solution was that simple.

“I absolutely will not accept compensation. I must take my land back,” said Sath Nget, 44, a representative of villagers from Kantuot commune. “The compensation is not appropriate, because my land is not a heritage site.”

Fellow representative Phan Phoeun, 41, said that the land was at risk of being seized for private use.

“People have lived there a long time. Why is it my land they are taking to preserve?” he said.

Lor Chan, investigator for human rights group Adhoc, urged the human rights commission to invite representatives from UNESCO to talk about the plan.

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested