Hundreds of Kratie province residents who descended upon a pagoda in Phnom Penh on Sunday returned home yesterday after being told by the Land Management Ministry that a land identification process will soon commence.
The residents are locked in a land dispute with the Memot Rubber Plantation company and vowed to remain at the Samaki Raingsey pagoda in the capital until the Land Management Ministry provided a solution.
Yesterday morning, they attempted to march from the pagoda in Meanchey district to the home of Prime Minister Hun Sen near Independence Monument, but were blocked by authorities in Chamkar Mon district. A small scuffle ensued, causing one woman to faint.
The residents were then redirected to the Land Management Ministry to meet with Land Management Minister Chea Sophara.
Phin Thea, one of the residents, said after meeting with the minister that the group decided to return home because the ministry agreed to begin a land and resident identification process.
“The minister issued a letter to assign a working group to study and resolve this dispute from Thursday onwards,” Mr Thea said. “We set a condition to provide each family with two and a half hectares of farm land and village land.”
After the meeting, the Land Management Ministry issued a statement accusing the residents of grabbing land granted to the Memot Rubber Plantation company as part of an Economic Land Concession.
However, the ministry said that the government will address the problem and begin the land identification process in accordance with Social Land Concession procedures.
“The people returned home so they can collaborate with Kratie provincial authorities to accelerate the identification process,” it said.
The ministry noted that the Kratie residents also agreed to cooperate with provincial authorities in order to prevent land grabbing, incitement and fraud.
“In cases of fraud, land grabbing and incitement, the people will face legal action,” the statement said.