CNRP Youth Visits Villagers Accusing Vietnam of Encroachment

Buddhist monks and activists from the Boeng Kak and Borei Keila communities joined a 100-strong group led by CNRP Youth on Sunday to visit Svay Rieng province, where villagers along the border with Vietnam claim demarcation posts have encroached on their land.

Hing Soksan, head of the CNRP Youth, said that 12 families from Romduol district’s Thna Thnong commune complained to the CNRP that Vietnamese authorities had placed demarcation posts about 150 meters inside the Cambodian border, which would see them lose their farmland if the boundary becomes official.

“We were joined by about 100 visitors as we went to the border in Thna Thnong and Tasuos communes, where we found that six border posts had been placed inside Cambodia,” Mr. Soksan said.

He alleged that Thna Thnong commune authorities—including about 10 police officers dressed in plain clothes—blocked a road in an attempt to prevent the group from reaching the border area, but were persuaded to let them pass after a brief discussion.

Alleged border encroachment by Vietnam has been a longtime bugbear for CNRP President Sam Rainsy, who led a protest march to the Vietnamese border in 2009 and uprooted a border post he said had been placed on Cambodian farmers’ land. The incident led to a slew of charges for which Mr. Rainsy was sentenced to jail, leading him to leave the country for four years.

Toek Ley, 59, a villager in Thna Thnong commune, said he had learned that since 1963, Vietnam has moved the border about 160 meters into Cambodia, which was now marked out by the six posts laid in 2012.

“We cannot accept these border posts remaining where they are, because when the demarcation is completed it will mean our farmland will be lost to Vietnam,” Mr. Ley said.

Real Camerin, a CNRP lawmaker-elect for Svay Rieng, said he had found the remnants of old posts that show Vietnamese authorities had since pushed the border into Cambodia by 150 to 200 meters.

“When the CNRP leads the government, we will review the border case by invoking international law,” Mr. Camerin said.

Var Kimhong, chairman of the government’s border committee, denied that land was being ceded to Vietnam.

“I don’t know what they are basing their claims on saying that the demarcation posts are inside Cambodia, or that land has been lost to Vietnam, because it’s not true,” Mr. Kimhong said.

Tran Van Thong, spokesman for the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, declined to comment.

mengleng@cambodiadaily.com

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