Svay Rieng Families Want Resolution to Decadelong Dispute With Sugarcane Firm

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Residents of Svay Rieng’s Ampil commune protest in front of the commune hall on April 26, 2022. (CCFC)

About 100 people protested outside a commune hall in Svay Rieng’s Romeas Hak district, demanding a resolution to land they lost to a sugarcane company in 2010.

The villagers are from Ampil commune in Svay Rieng and said after the protest on Tuesday that they had lost their land to NK Venture, a Vietnam-based Indian sugarcane company which was granted a concession in 2010.

Chan Phorn, a representative for 443 families in the commune, said they have no land for agriculture because of the land dispute and authorities were dragging their feet to resolve the issue.

He said villagers wanted the government to return around 670 hectares of land that was given to NK Venture and that have petitioned all levels of government with no resolution.

Phorn added that authorities told them that NK Venture went bankrupt, but since 2016 the land was being used by another company to grow potatoes.

“In 2016, there was another company. They did not announce this and the company came, put their machines, used the police, the military police, and threatened to shoot people,” he said.

Ampil commune chief Chea Saran said he had no authority to resolve the dispute and had to be dealt with by more senior levels of government.

“That land is the land for the company that the government gave to invest in agriculture,” Saran said. “Thus, there is no possibility to resolve [here] and [they] can send the petition to the top.”

He added that the concession was transferred to a new concessionaire, who he referred to as “Heng.”

VOD could not reach Romeas Hak district governor Sous Mol on Tuesday.

Theng Savoeun, who heads a farmer support NGO, said the lack of resolution could become an issue at the upcoming election in June.

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