Source: Khmer Times
Nearly 40 people representing 59 families from a village in Battambang province have submitted a petition asking Prime Minister Hun Sen to help solve their land dispute with soldiers.
The group from Prey Preal village in Klaing Meas commune said soldiers had brought bulldozers to destroy their homes.
Village representative Nget Chantha said disabled military associations gave 59 families 152 hectares of land to live on 17 years ago. This was officially acknowledged at the time, he said.
But in 2012, when volunteer students went to measure the land, a group of soldiers led by Colonel Phlun Sophalla came out and claimed the land belonged to them.
Mr. Chantha said locals asked the authorities to intervene at the time. Since then, nothing had happened and no one had bothered them.
But on March 10, a group of soldiers came to grab the land and brought bulldozers to clear the alleged illegal settlements.
Mr. Chantha said: “Men in uniforms came and set up camps at three locations in the village. They have built a small house and taken our farming land.”
Local resident Rith Saren cried as he begged Mr. Hun Sen to intervene in their case and stop the soldiers taking their land.
Klaing Meas commune chief Bun Sambath said he has no ability to resolve land disputes, adding that provincial authorities are in charge.
Mr. Sophalla, the colonel who villagers say is behind the land grab, could not be reached for comment.
Kong Chamroeun, a secretary to Mr. Hun Sen’s cabinet, received the petition. He advised the villagers to submit another copy of the document to the Land Management Ministry, which they did.
The ministry has pledged to look into the matter, but said it hadn’t been informed of the case by provincial officials. It has written to Battambang authorities for further information.