Nearly 100 citizens representing 429 families at the center of the Techo Aphivat land dispute gathered at Kampot provincial hall yesterday demanding resolution of the row and for land titles to be speeded up.
However, the authorities said these citizens are not resident there and urged them to apply for concessions in other areas.
Protester Hou Sen said members of more than 400 families had lived on more than 400 hectares for many years in Ta Ken village, Chey Sena commune.
But in 2008, Military Brigade 31 went to burn houses and clear their farmland. Authorities later developed the area into Techo Aphivat commune.
“They told us to go and live somewhere else, but we do not know where to go. So the citizens disagreed with them and want to live in the same place,” he said.
Citizen representative Bo Sarin said the gathering at the provincial hall was to demand that provincial authorities resolve the dispute as soon as possible because they had occupied the land for many years.
However Sim Vuthy, the Kampot provincial deputy governor with responsibility for the dispute said the citizens who went to protest were not residents of this area as the land is at Preah Monivong National Park and the government has provided the land to former armed forces and their families.
He asked the citizens to prepare a petition and attach relevant documents. Provincial authorities would find a solution or provide social land concessions at another location, he said.
Heng Phearak, an Adhoc official in Kampot province, said the dispute has gone on for many years.
He could not say whether the protesters were citizens who had been expelled or were newcomers. However, he asked the authorities to solve land disputes peacefully in ways which can be accepted by all sides.
The Techo Aphivat commune was established by a government decree in 2011 and divided into six villages.
Source: Khmer Times