Villagers and human rights workers this week accused RCAF soldiers in Kampot province of sealing off a Chhuk district village and detaining four people during a violent clash over a land dispute.
The confrontation began over the weekend when more than 1,000 families in Chey Szena village resisted their removal to make way for a Forestry Administration tree nursery.
Chan Soveth, chief monitor for Adhoc, said by telephone from Taken commune Tuesday that personnel from RCAF Soldier Team 31 arrested four villagers Monday following a violent confrontation sparked when a woman resisted the destruction of her home. Adhoc has accused authorities of burning or dismantling more than 100 homes in the area this month.
“The soldiers threatened the woman and hit her in the eye,” Chan Soveth said. “The other villagers came in to help, and the confrontation started,” he said, adding that the four have been accused of assault, destruction of public property and attempted killing.
As many as 100 soldiers had by Tuesday sealed off the village, he said.
“They have banned trading food with the village,” he added.
Kvann Seam, director of the engineering department of RCAF, on Wednesday denied soldiers had fought with villagers or sealed off the village.
In Chiva, deputy Kampot police chief, confirmed that four villagers were taken into custody and forwarded to the provincial court. Kampot Prosecutor Top Chhunheng declined to comment.
Forestry Administration spokesman Thun Sarath claimed the nursery will be for villagers’ use. He also said authorities intend to build schools and a hospital at the site.