More than 100 families in Preah Vihear’s Kulen district are accusing a company of clearing their land in an economic land concession and filing complaints against 10 village representatives.
Leng Pin, 42, from Kulen Choeung commune, said on Monday that 130 families had long been in dispute with Cambodia Blue Haven, which received 9,129 hectares in 2012 for rubber and other crops.
Last month, the company deployed machinery to clear the families’ land, sparking a protest, Pin said. Each family had 3-5 hectares in the area, and mostly grew cassava, he said, adding that most residents had been there since around 2000.
He called on the government to allow residents to stay on their land and to issue titles for them. “Previously, the company always threatened to handcuff and sue people,” Pin said.
Pheng Phal, another Kulen Choeung resident who has 5 hectares in the disputed area, said the company had sued 10 village representatives at the commune level, demanding $1,500 in compensation from each of them.
Reporters could not get a response from Cambodia Blue Haven, Kulen Choeung commune chief Leam Sangim or Pyuor Chruk village chief Khean Rom.
Preah Vihear governor Prak Sovann said on Monday that he had not received information about the dispute, but his officials would look into the case.
Lor Chann, Preah Vihear coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the long-standing dispute had not been satisfactorily resolved over many years, accusing authorities of being biased toward the company.
“Previously, we have seen the company Blue Haven cause an impact on the people’s land and forest in the Pyuor Chruk area, and when the people gathered to protest the company and authorities blocked and threatened people,” Chann said, adding that residents had also protested accusing the company of illegal logging. Over 11 years, the company had done little beyond clearing the land and growing some lemongrass, he said.