Bitter Kratie Villagers Vow to Resume Protests in Land Dispute

Despite being awarded a social land concession, more than 300 families involved in a protracted land dispute in Kratie province’s Snuol district on Tuesday threatened to continue protesting in Phnom Penh after authorities on Saturday promised a better deal to another community in the same district.

In June, 301 families living in Snuol district’s Khsoem commune were awarded a 750-hectare social land concession after petitioning national-level authorities to intervene in their dispute with the Vietnamese-owned Binh Phuoc 2 company.

Since then, however, a total of 746 families have registered for land on the new concession, delaying issuance of the plots and frustrating the original families.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Land Management also promised to confiscate land from the South Korean-owned Horizon Agriculture Development and issue land titles to villagers in Snuol commune.

“The other villagers and I are not happy because we protested for a long time but have not yet received a [satisfactory] solution, but another group of people protested for only a month and they found a real solution,” Lim Chandy, a representative for the Khsoem commune families, said Tuesday.

“We give the authorities one month to find a real solution for us or I will lead people to protest to demand that the provincial governor [Sar Chamrong] issue land titles for us. And we will go to Phnom Penh if our protest in the province fails,” Mr. Chandy said.

Deputy provincial Governor Khan Chamnan admitted that the additional families seeking land on the concession in Khsoem commune had held up the process of granting titles. But he said authorities would resolve the issue after first dealing with the case in Snuol commune.

“We will start working to find a solution for those families after we complete the distribution of land titles to the families in Snuol commune,” Mr. Chamnan said.

Sun Sreak, a villagers from Khsoem commune, accused provincial officials of instructing ethnic Vietnamese and Cham families to register for plots within the new concession.

“I think that the provincial authorities sent those people to get [land within] the social land concession,” he said.

Mr. Chamnan denied the claim.

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