Families Ordered to Cede Land to Developer

The Koh Kong Provincial Court has ordered 47 families in a land dispute with China’s Union Development Group (UDG) to immediately vacate their homes, according to a copy of the court decision obtained Monday.

UDG has already evicted some 1,000 families from a 45,000-hectare tract inside Botum Sakor National Park it has been developing into a $3.8-billion tourist complex since 2010. The 47 families named in the court decision have held out, claiming to have been living on and farming the land for decades.

The February 2 decision, signed by provincial court Vice President Cheng Bunly, was issued just a day after UDG filed a complaint against the families.

It orders the families “to remove your houses and gates and take all materials from the land of the Union Development Group” and denies them all other ownership rights, including the right to sell or rent the land.

“This decision is effective immediately even if there is a complaint,” the order reads. “This decision is open to appeal.”

Sim Kimsan, whose family is among the 47 targeted in the order, said he has been living on the site since 1984 and had no intention of complying with the decision.

“I reject the court’s decision because it is my land,” he said. “I want to ask: When did I sell my land to the company? I have never sold my land to the company.

“The court is unjust,” he added. “The court has a scale, but it does not know how to use the scale. On one side of the scale they put the rock, but on the other side, they don’t put the meat.”

Mr. Kimsan said the 47 families would gather in front of the provincial courthouse on Wednesday to protest the decision.

In Kongchet, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said the court previously rejected two complaints from the families asking it to order UDG not to evict them, once in late 2013 and again in early 2014.

“We have seen that the court is biased toward the Chinese company because when the villagers filed a complaint to the court asking for an injunction, the court dismissed it,” he said. “But when the Chinese company files a complaint, it issues an order.”

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