Three men representing 600 Pailin families in a land dispute case have filed a complaint at human rights group Adhoc’s Phnom Penh office, saying they have lived in fear since being accused of involvement with the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, Adhoc chief investigator Ny Chakrya said Friday.
A Sala Krao district official was quoted as saying in a statement from Adhoc that the three men registered and gave their thumbprints to serve in the CFF.
They fled to Phnom Penh last week, Ny Chakrya said.
“We cannot release their names because they are worried about the safety of their families in Pailin,” he said.
The villagers face eviction from their homes in Stung Kach commune, Sala Krao district to make way for construction of an international market, an Adhoc statement said.
A complaint filed March 26 with the Pailin municipality carried the thumbprints of 273 villagers, according to the statement. The villagers fear they will be relocated to land that has not been demined, has no water supply and is far from health centers and schools, the release stated.
Ny Chakrya said he did not believe the municipality had made a formal decision on the relocation. But villagers had been told by commune authorities they must leave the land soon, he added.
Keut Thea, second deputy governor of Pailin, confirmed there is a government plan to develop the area. But the forced relocation of the villagers is only a rumor. He said he did not know about accusations that the three men are CFF members.
The villagers were told in the past they would be allowed to live on the land as long as it was not needed by officials, Keut Thea said. The land where villagers could be moved will first be demined by the municipality. The new site is just 200 meters from the current location, he said.