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Preah Vihear residents want their village back

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
KT/Chor Sokunthea

About 20 people representing 253 families in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district, who have a land dispute with the provincial authority and a lawmaker from the ruling party, resubmitted a petition to the Interior Ministry yesterday asking for the return of their village.

Phan Thoeun, one of the representatives, said they had submitted petitions to the Interior Ministry and relevant ministries many times but still have not received a solution.

They asked for intervention to address their land dispute and allow them to live on the 3,353 hectares of land in Kantuot commume’s Svay Chrum village they were evicted from in 2012.

“In the past, our village was in another location, but due to violence at Preah Vihear Temple, the authorities evacuated people and did not allow us to live at the old location,” he said.

“They removed our houses, evicted people from the land and took the land up to the present, making us face extreme difficulties.”

Mr Thoeun requested the Interior Ministry and relevant ministries and institutions to speed up the settlement for them to live in their old village.

Men Bunrith, deputy secretary-general and administrative chief of the Interior Ministry, said he had not seen the letter asking for intervention but noted that officials had already met with the people.

“People have already met with administrative officials, but I have not seen the documents. But in general, after receiving the petition, it will be submitted to the ministry’s leaders for review, and then our administration will follow their decision,” he said.

Preah Vihear deputy Governor Un Chanda asked the people to meet at the Provincial Hall to find a solution.

“If there is any problem, the people should go to the Provincial Hall and meet us to resolve the problem,” he said.

CPP lawmaker Suos Yara, who was accused by villagers, said the land was a protected area of the Preah Vihear Temple, and that authorities had already solved the problem.

In January 2016, provincial authorities and the National Authority for Preah Vihear issued a joint declaration, confirming the government had established a national working group to address the resettlement of people from the Preah Vihear Temple area to a new location called “Phom Thomacheat Samdech Techo”.

At that time, the government suggested a scheme to 1,045 families in which each family got about $500, a plot of land 50 metres by 100 metres to build a house, two hectares of land for farming and materials to build houses.

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