Authorities in Kratie province yesterday demolished a dozen family farms deemed illegal in Snuol district’s Khsoem commune.
A villager who requested anonymity said that the demolition was conducted by provincial and district authorities along with police and military police officers.
The villager said the residents were accused by the authorities of encroaching on state property.
“Police and military police officials tore down 12 houses and cleared crops,” the villager said.
The villager said he and others bought the land in 2012. Families use it to grow jackfruit, mango and cassava.
Sam Nal, Snuol district deputy governor, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
However, Mr Nal was quoted by an online newspaper on September 18 saying that if the villagers failed to meet a September 30 deadline, their homes would be demolished. He said that villagers abused land prepared for other families.
“If those families want land, do it legally,” Mr Nal said. “They can make a request to the provincial land conflict resolution commission to receive land.”
Plang Nareth, Khsoem commune chief, said yesterday that more than 100 households live in the area, but 30 households were due for eviction. Ms Nareth declined to comment further.
Chan Sok Kim, Snuol district police chief, yesterday said officials led the demolition yesterday.
“The joint operation was led by provincial Deputy Governor Khan Chamnan and a deputy provincial prosecutor,” Mr Sok Kim said.
Pen Lynat, a deputy provincial governor and provincial spokesman, could not comment on the matter.
“I cannot comment yet because I did not receive a report from the authorities,” Mr Lynat said.
Soeng Sen Karuna, senior monitoring officer with rights group Adhoc, said authorities should consider the details prior to conducting an eviction.
“The people and the authorities should solve the problem peacefully,” Mr Sen Karuna said, adding that a solution should have been found . “We knew that some people lack land to live on, so the government should find a good resolution for our people.”
Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager for rights group Licadho, said forced evictions are not considered a good solution to land conflicts.
“If the authorities force villagers out, then it’s not a good resolution,” Mr Sam Ath said. “The authorities should offer a solution villagers can accept.”
In March, the Interior Ministry concluded an investigation into a violent clash in the same area between villagers and officials that sparked when huts on Memot Rubber Plantation Company land were being dismantled.
Villagers had attempted to block the officials from destroying their huts. As fighting broke out, villagers fought armed officials with sticks, machetes and slingshots, leading to differing reports of injuries when soldiers responded with live ammunition.
The ministry concluded that no one was killed in the clash as initially reported by some media outlets.