June 21, 2017

Company clears rice crop on disputed land

A company locked in a land dispute with villagers in Svay Rieng province yesterday used machinery to clear land being used by the villagers for farming.

Accompanied by police, NK Venture used seven machines to clear land in Romeas Hek district’s Ampil commune, where the company was granted government permission to build a sugar plantation on 670 hectares of land in 2010.

But the plot of land remains empty and local villagers continue to use it for farming, which the company and authorities have deemed illegal.

Theng Savouen, an official with the Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community, said villagers attempted to save their crops yesterday, but failed.

“The villagers came to stop the authorities and the company but were not successful,” he said. “Luckily, there was not any violence between the villagers and authorities.”

Mr Savouen added the authorities threatened villagers who were taking pictures.

Khiev Saron, one of the villagers, said she does not consider the farming to be illegal because the plot has remained empty for so long.

“They cleared some rice planted by villagers,” she said. “The villagers have no choice but to plant there because they need land to plant food to eat.”

Romeas Hek district police chief Sam Samol said that the company has the law on its side because it was given an economic land concession.

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