Chumnoab commune authorities in Koh Kong province have started to dismantle the Areng Valley community office despite appeals from the community to keep it.
On March 21, Chumnoab commune officials advised the Areng Valley community to relocate their office because the land it was on was being reallocated for a new commune office.
Ven Eat, a resident of Areng Valley, said Chumnoab commune officials started to dismantle the community office on Sunday, despite pleas from residents.
“They started to dismantle our cooking room where we always cook when tourists come to visit the Areng community,” he said. “We do not want to lose our office.”
Lim Kimsour, an environment activist in Koh Kong province, also said that the Areng community office is undergoing demolition.
“This office gives many benefits, such as knowledge, and a place for tourists to stay,” she said. “Even the residents use it for meetings, but they won’t let us keep it.”
“It is difficult for us to mount any kind of protest,” she added, noting the land belongs to the commune authority. “We had just hoped that they would be understanding.”
Areng Valley representatives had previously appealed the decision to remove their office, but their pleas were shot down. Today was the deadline for them to move.
Meas Chreay, chief of Chumnoab commune, said the decision to take back the land and use it for a new commune office could not be reversed.
“The commune needs that area to build a commune office to serve the residents,” he said.