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Kuoy cry foul over land loss

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Indigenous people from Preah Vihear province speak during a press conference in Phnom Penh. KT/Siv Channa

The Kuoy indigenous community in Preah Vihear are seeking Prime Minister Hun Sen’s intervention after they claimed provincial authorities moved the Chheb district land border 3km into their commune land.

“We have called for Prime Minister Hun Sen to issue a clear and separate order to the Preah Vihear provincial authorities and to mark Bramer commune border with Tbeng Meanchey district to align with the documented border markings made in 2008.”

“The markings of the border were agreed in the minutes of a meeting on 25 April 2008 between the communes of Kampong Branak, Por and Bramer of Tbeng Meanchey district and the communes of Mlou Prey I and Mlou Prey II of Chheb district,” the community members said in a statement yesterday.

It said the community was very disappointed that provincial authorities and Chheb district officials have moved the district border into Bramer commune border.

“The provincial authorities were warned not to attempt to move the border into Bramer commune land, as it would cause the commune to lose more administrative and geographic territory,” the statement said.

The indigenous community members said in a press conference yesterday, they had submitted an intervention letter and petition with more than 500 thumbprints of their members to Mr Hun Sen’s cabinet, but his cabinet officials accepted only the intervention letter.

The intervention letter obtained by Khmer Times said the authorities of the province, the districts of Chheb and Tbeng Meanchey and the provincial department of public works and transport must remove the border poles from the new location and put them back to their original locations immediately, in line with the commune border agreement recorded in 2008.

“The provincial authorities must dissolve their plans to create new villages and districts within the Kuoy indigenous people’s land as it negatively affects the identity, tradition and culture of Kuoy. It also undermines the 2008 agreement and encroaches on the existing forests and environment,” the letter said.

Tep Tim, community member of Bramer village of Bramer commune, said at the press conference: “We have submitted a letter Prime Minister Hun Sen to seek his intervention so that right to land usage of the indigenous people is not adversely affected and our livelihood is not disturbed.”

Phann Sokhom, a community member of Sre Preang village of Bramer commune, said after the press conference that after 1979 no one came to live in the area in his commune because there were a lot of landmines.

He said since 1993, he and other indigenous people started farming the land and in 2007, he and other indigenous people started to live in the commune, at which point commune authorities recognised and measured out the land for them.

“The authorities have been moving the Chheb district border into the Bramer commune since 2014. They now say 10 percent of Bramer commune land belongs to Chheb district,” he added.

Preah Vihear provincial hall spokesman Yung Kimhoeung said yesterday, he has received the community documents and provincial specialty officials are working on it.

The officials visited the site twice already to work on the case, he added.

“The issue of the boundary is it is not marked by the provincial administration,” he said. “The national administration is the marker of the boundary because it is a boundary between one district and another district. It is marked by the Royal decree,” he said.

However, Kimhoeung referred further questions to Sam Saroeun, director of Preah Vihear provincial department of land management.

Saroeun could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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