Cement and wire fencing surrounding 40 plots of land in Siem Reap province’s Prasat Bakorng district were destroyed last week by military police, police and officials from the Apsara Authority—the government body overseeing the Angkor Archeological Park—officials said Monday.
Khoy Kimtour, deputy chairman of Apsara’s land dispute resolution committee, said the fencing was destroyed on Dec 31 as the plots of formerly private land now belong to the government, which purchased the properties more than a decade ago.
“We destroyed the fences which were built without authority on state land,” Khoy Kimtour said by telephone.
“The government paid for this land to use for a development project but those who accepted the money did not move out,” he said. Residential housing on the 40 plots, which each measure 20-by-40 meters, has not been damaged, Khoy Kimtour said.
“We will give them time to remove their property and their houses as we do not want to damage their belongings,” he added.
One resident, Sours Narin, said more than 100 locals armed with knives confronted the authorities but were unable to stop the destruction of the fences. Sours Narin also accused police and military police of selling steel from the destroyed fences to scrap merchants.
“They sold [the steel] like it was a trophy from the battlefield,” he said, adding that the land was originally given to refugees returning from the Thai border camps in 1993. Only some residents of the area accepted from the government payment to relocate in 1995, Sours Narin said.
Provincial military police commander Morn Samon denied on Monday that his officers had sold steel from the fencing to scrap dealers.
“The military police do not need to sell those few pieces of wire. They had nothing to do with it; scavengers took it,” he said.