Farmers Return to Kratie After Land Concession

The 204 farmers evicted from their land to make way for a Vietnamese rubber company returned to Kratie province’s Snuol district on Sunday after accepting a social land concession in the same district they were evicted from.

Provincial deputy governor Khan Chamnan said that his office was now preparing the social land concession.

“We are allowing these families to stay on the farmland and we are now digging a boundary of 750 hectares and excavating the land,” Mr. Chamnan said.

“We also allocate a plot of land for building a school, health center and pagoda for these families when this village will become a village in the future.”

Mr. Chamnan added that the farmers would be allowed to pick a plot of land based on a lottery basis but said villagers would not be able to expand the land.

“We allowed those families to return to the farmland because they promised not to cut the state forest, expand and clear the land,” he said.

The villagers, who were evicted from Snuol district’s Khsoem commune on May 2 by Vietnamese firm Binh Phuoc 2, had been staying in Phnom Penh’s Samakki Raingsey pagoda since May 5 and had staged multiple protests, including one in which they were blocked from delivering a petition to the Cambodian Red Cross.

Provincial land management director Kao Malilen said that his staff had begun gathering information on who is eligible to be housed on the social land concession.

“We will submit a proposal to the provincial governor tomorrow and we will meet those families to inform them in the next few days,” he said Sunday.

“I expect that this work will finish within one week and if those families agree with our proposal then we will start measuring the land for them.”

The majority of the villagers originated from Kompong Cham province and moved to the plot of land in Kratie province starting in 2008.

Lim Chandy, 56, who came from Kompong Cham before relocating to Khsoem commune in 2010, occupied five hectares of land before being ejected to make way for the rubber plantation. He has been waiting on the 750-hectare plot of land along with 100 other families since Saturday.

“We are not yet aware that the authorities have started to [gather information] for the families but they asked all the people to wait here while the authorities measure the land for us,” he said.

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