Long-awaited Return to Village Frustrated

Source: Phnom Penh Post | Thu, 24 March 2016, by Pech Sotheary

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People from Preah Vihear’s Choam Ksan voice their concerns at Samaki Raingsey pagoda over a land dispute late last year. P Hong Menea

After two years in Phnom Penh protesting the loss of their land, 250 Preah Vihear families received intervention from the Interior Ministry last week and returned home, only to be turned away by provincial authorities.

The villagers, from Svay Chrum village in Choam Ksan district, were told they had to leave their homes in 2010. Two years ago, they moved to the capital to demonstrate.

Finally, following a letter of request, obtained by the Post last week, from the Ministry of Interior to the National Committee for Land Dispute Resolution requesting that the dispute be resolved, the villagers returned home on Monday.

However, according to village representatives, on return to their homes, located close to the Preah Vihear temple, provincial authorities refused to let them resettle, saying they did not have the legal documentation and the area was unsafe due to the one-time border conflict.

“The authorities violate the law and still use force to abuse people over the land dispute and ban people from living in the old village,” said representative Tin Chantha.

Neither the provincial authorities nor the Interior Ministry could be reached for comment.

Preah Vihear provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc Lor Chan described the case as a “human rights violation” and called on the Interior Ministry to take action as “people have been waiting for a solution for years”.

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