Preah Vihear villagers allege rubber company retaliation

Source: The Phnom Penh Post / Thu, 31 March 2016 by

green_rubber_checkpoint_burned_down_21_03_2016_supplied_0

A Green Rubber company checkpoint burns in a Preah Vihear ELC after protesting villagers set it on fire earlier this month. Photo supplied

Villagers from Preah Vihear’s Kulen district, where last week two rubber company guard posts were torched, yesterday alleged security guards from the same company had looted their homes and threatened to burn them.

Green Rubber, whose guard posts were burned last week, was granted a 6,000-hectare economic land concession (ELC) in 2012. Villagers claim to have lived on 2,000 hectares of the ELC since 1998.

Yesterday, 36 residents of Spean Kmeng village in Kulen’s Srayong commune affixed their thumbprints to a letter addressed to rights groups Adhoc and Ponlok Khmer calling for their intervention in the now more than three-year land dispute.

The letter alleges that since 2012, villagers’ farmland has been cleared and agricultural equipment stolen from their homes by security guards from Green Rubber and another rubber company, Serey Mony.

“They also threatened to burn our huts down and send us to jail,” the letter read.

Lor Chann, Preah Vihear provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said the villagers were long-time residents and the rights group would petition provincial authorities on their behalf.

Green Rubber spokesman Pun Sothea denied the villagers’ allegations, saying security guards seized chainsaws used in illegal logging. He added a meeting between the villagers, provincial authorities and Green Rubber was planned to negotiate a reduction in the ELC.

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