A Green Rubber company checkpoint burns in a Preah Vihear ELC on Monday after protesting villagers set it on fire.
23 March – More than 200 people from five villages in Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces on Monday burned two rubber company guard posts to the ground in protest of the planned clearing of at least 1,000 hectares of disputed farmland and forests.
In 2012, the government granted a 70-year, 6,000-hectare economic land concession (ELC) spanning both provinces inside the Kulen Prom-Tep Wildlife Sanctuary to Ly Chhuong Construction and Import Export (later renamed Green Rubber).
Following protests from villagers, who claimed they had lived on the land since 1998, the government excised 473 hectares from the concession in 2014. However, other villagers have continued to contest parts of the concession. In total, 2,000 hectares remain in dispute.
Pang Yiet, Kulen’s district governor, said that authorities and company representatives met residents of five villages on Monday, telling them that the company this year planned to clear 1,000 hectares, including land on which some of their farms were located.
The villagers reacted by setting fire to two of Green Rubber’s outposts in the ELC, he said.“We told them in the morning and they burned things down in the afternoon; they did not listen to us,” the governor said yesterday.
Continue reading “Cambodia: Villagers torch ELC guard posts in land dispute protest”
18 March – More than 200 Preah Vihear families are locked in a land dispute with a Phnom Penh police officer over a 7-hectare burial site, with villagers alleging the officer drew his service pistol on them.
Um Vanna is a Phnom Penh-based officer in the National Police’s riot squad. To the protests of local residents, Vanna lay claim to a burial site in Preah Vihear’s Sangkum Thmei district early last year.
Sun Chanda, 31, lives nearby and is among the villagers who oppose Vanna’s claim to what they say is the resting place of their ancestors.
“Vanna wants people to hand the ancestral graveyard to him for his private property, but we want to preserve it as collective property,” said Chanda.
Chanda is one of eight villagers accused in a lawsuit brought by Vanna in December of “violently grabbing and intentionally vandalising” his property.
Continue reading “Cambodia: Villagers, riot cop in fight over Preah Vihear burial site”
14 March – 14 March – A group of Kuoy ethnic minorities commandeered a truck attempting to move a huge log out of Preah Rokar community forest in Preah Vihear’s Cham Ksan district on Friday.
According to community member Min Yut, close to 50 villagers surrounded the truck and six workers from a company called Ratanak Sambath. The employees fled, leaving the truck and two chainsaws behind, he said.
A representative from the company later negotiated the return of the truck, in return for $1,500, Yut added.
“We agreed and took the compensation to use for patrolling our forest,” he said, adding that the log and chainsaws were impounded.
The company could not be reached for comment yesterday and local authorities said they were not yet aware of the case.
According to Yut, this was the second illegal logging case involving Ratanak Sambath this year.
In February, he said, the company had negotiated the return of two trucks impounded by the community group in a similar incident for $800.
3 March – A boss at a garment factory in Kampong Chhnang province has accused the husband and a friend of a recently fired employee of chasing down her car and trying to kill her.
Thhey Kunthea, administrative chief of the Chinese-owned Horizon Outdoor garment factory, filed an attempted murder complaint at the provincial police station on Monday night against dismissed employee Som Chreum’s husband, Phon Vanna, 35, and friend Khem Chhoun, 47, according to provincial police chief Srey Sitha. Both are being held at provincial court.
Vanna and Chhoun had pursued Kunthea’s car on a motorbike until it became stuck in a traffic jam and then blocked its path, Sitha said.
“The men opened the door and took the administrative chief out of the car. So there was a physical argument,” he said. “Thhey Kunthea got injured on her arm and left-hand side.”
Continue reading “Cambodia: Factory boss calls scuffle ‘murder attempt’”
Villagers block a road in Kampong Speu province on Monday during a protest against quarry trucks using the road
3 Feb – A hundred people from 10 villages in Kampong Speu on Monday blocked a road to a mountain where construction supply companies operate rock quarries.
Villagers had complained for years that three companies damaged the road with their trucks but avoided paying compensation despite promises.
Two of the companies, HTTK and Khmer ISS, belong to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew, Hun To. The third is a Chinese company whose name the activists and local authorities said they didn’t know.
“We have been waiting for [them to keep] their promise but we don’t see them taking any action,” said Kong Sameurn, a farmer in Phnom Sruoch district.
The villagers requested that all three companies set a timetable to fix the road and pay compensation.
Hun To defended himself yesterday, saying his companies are just two out of six or seven that are active in the area.
“Do not blame me just because I have relatives or connections with the government,” he said. “My companies have the legal right to work here.”
Sam Tith Seyha, a human rights monitor for rights group LICADHO, said that villagers would continue to block the road until the companies agree to negotiate.
Previous complaints by villagers bore no results, “because the authorities have less power than the companies”, he said.