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More Protest Over Land Disputes

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:

Nearly 100 people in land disputes with powerful officials and investment companies in Tbong Khmum and Kratie provinces gathered at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction yesterday afternoon to urge the ministry to expedite a land dispute resolution for them.
Chan Yong, a representative for 136 Cham families in Trapeang Srae village in Kratie province’s Snuol district, said they had been living and farming on 525 hectares of land for many years, but in 2010, the Ratanak Stone and Taerak Investment companies cleared their crops to plant rubber trees instead.
After the land dispute, they submitted a petition to provincial authorities, some national-level institutions and the Ministry of Land Management for intervention, but after nearly six years and no resolution they were forced to ask the ministry again.
“The ministry and prime minister please help find justice for us. We face difficulties because we have lost the land for almost six years without having land for farming which forced some people to go to work in Malaysia and Thailand, and some have died,” he said.
Phaen Sameourn, a citizen from Kampraeus community in Tbong Khmum province’s Dambae district, said 250 families in the community had sent a petition to the Ministry of Land Management two or three times already seeking intervention in their 343-hectare land dispute with tycoon Chay Chreay, but had received no response, forcing them to try again at the ministry.
Representatives from the Ratanak Stone Company, Taerak Investment Company and tycoon Chay Chreay could not be reached for comment.
Land Management Ministry official Ol Sok Yos, who met with the protesters, said that expert officials were in the process of resolving the two land disputes and the citizens would be informed of the decision soon.
“So far, expert officials have been working to resolve the problem – the ministry hasn’t ignored it. They are working on this case in accordance with legal procedures,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, a senior coordinator at rights group Licadho, said the fact that people have been gathering at the ministry to submit petitions recently showed that land issues were still a chronic problem.
However, he applauded the ministry’s establishment of a commission for resolving land disputes and said civil society groups would monitor the effectiveness of the ministry’s solutions.

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