About 300 villagers from Kandal province’s Kandal Stueng district who are locked in a land dispute with the Heng Development Company gathered in front of the provincial hall yesterday asking for help in solving their case.
Meanwhile, six villagers, who had been summoned by provincial military police, clarified their positions following a complaint by the owner of the development company.
Villager Oeung Sary said they gathered at the provincial hall because she and five other villagers were summoned by the military police to clarify yesterday following a complaint that accused them of inciting and leading people to block bulldozers from clearing land legally owned by the company.
She added that earlier this month, two machines belonging to the company had cleared disputed land, causing them to take action until a resolution was reached. However, the company filed a lawsuit against them instead.
“We came to the provincial hall today because we do not agree with this complaint. They took our land and also filed a complaint against us. We did not sell the land to any company, it is collective land that belongs to the community,” she said.
According to villagers, more than 1,000 families filed a lawsuit asking authorities to settle the land dispute involving more than 400 hectares with the Heng Development Company in 2005.
Up to now, 200 hectares of land have been resolved while about 218 hectares remain in dispute, affecting 300 families.
Bo Savoeun, director of inter-sector office of Kandal provincial hall, told villagers to prepare legal documents so provincial authorities could plan a meeting between them and the owner of the Heng Development Company in order to resolve the dispute.
“Regarding their request to meet Ms Seang Chan Heng, I will first ask for the opinion of provincial leaders. I will invite both sides once they have made a decision. It’s the way to find a solution,” he said.
After the response from Mr Savoeun, the villagers – from Kandork, Ampil Prey, Prek Sleng and Boeung Kcha communes – stopped their gathering and agreed to wait for a resolution from the provincial hall.
Ms Chan Heng, the owner of the Heng Development Company, could not be reached for comment yesterday.