Some 100 people representing more than 600 families from Kratie province’s Snuol district who have a land dispute with the Memot Rubber Plantation Company returned home yesterday after sending petitions to relevant ministries.
Sok Heng, one of the residents of Snuol district’s Pi Thnou commune, said that they came to Phnom Penh to seek intervention from the government to help end their land dispute with the company and on Monday sent petitions to the cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen and representatives of the Ministry of Land Management.
Earlier this month, a violent clash between the villagers and officials broke out when about 100 officials, including district officials, a court prosecutor and representatives from the Memot Rubber Plantation Company, attempted to remove 10 huts being built by villagers on company land.
The government granted Memot Rubber Plantation a more than 9,000-hectare economic land concession in Snuol district to grow rubber in 2008.
Kratie provincial deputy governor Hoeur Siyem and Snuol district governor Kong Kimny came to meet with the villagers in Phnom Penh, promising to find them a solution.
“The provincial governor and district governor have asked us to go back to the province while they find a solution,” Mr Heng said. “In the past, the authorities have promised us so many times. However, we should believe them once again.”
Mr Siyem could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Mr Kimny said not all of the protesters who were involved in the violent clash and who then travelled to Phnom Penh were truly from Pi Thnou commune.
“In fact, most of them are not residents living in the commune,” he said. “According to the procedure, those people have to certify their identities from their district and commune to confirm they are truly landless because some of them are not poor, but they have cleared forest and grabbed the land to sell to others.”
“Our authorities want to hand over land to the truly landless people,” he added.