Source: Khmer Times
BANTEAY MEANCHEY, (Khmer Times) – Representatives of nearly 200 families gathered in front of the Banteay Meanchey provincial hall yesterday demanding that authorities intervene in a land dispute after security forces blocked harvesting.
The dispute, which sets the families against members of 14 other families, involves land in Thma Puok district’s Thma Puok and Phum Thmey communes.
Protest representative Oun Many said that 170 families have been in dispute with the Ly Sam An company on 290 hectares of land since 1994.
But after the case was sent to the court, the court issued a warrant to protect the company in the name of 14 other families.
He said members of the 170 families were dissatisfied with the court’s action.
“People have already planted cassava. Now it is harvest time and suddenly the other party with police and soldiers came to evict the people,” he said.
“This made people angry and they came to the provincial hall to ask the governor to intervene to let them harvest the cassava and to solve the dispute.”
Governor Soun Bavor, who met about 100 representatives of the protesters, said a previous provincial administration gave the land to members of the 14 families.
The court had supported this decision, but the 170 families did not agree and planted on the land.
He said he had told local authorities to allow the harvest to go ahead. Provincial officials would check on the land dispute on Wednesday next week.
“They will go to find out the number of families living on the land, the number of villagers, the number of newcomers and the number of people who bought the land from each other to let us know about the problems,” he said.
Provincial authorities would seek guidance from their superiors to find a solution.
Sum Chankea, the Banteay Meanchey provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said provincial authorities have created committees several times.
But these had come up with no clear principles to solve nearly 300 land disputes in the province.
He said: “Promises from officials were made based on their wish to prevent people from protesting. So we will continue to monitor the work of the authorities on this issue.”
Besides the people in Thma Puok district who sought provincial intervention, there were people in Poipet City who were affected by a railway development and who had protested 38 times, he said.
People from Ou Chrov district who have a land dispute with wealthy individuals had gathered asking the authorities to speed up its resolution.