Gov’t Attempts to Negotiate Land Dispute

In the wake of a series of violent protests that put six farmers in jail, Kompong Speu’s provincial government is attempting to negotiate a settlement between a Korean company and thousands of families who say the company seized their land.

The dispute actually was the result of a soldier misdrawing land on a map, which gave the Kim Fvil Corporation possession of the farmers’ properties, Kom­pong Speu Second Deputy Gov­ernor Phauk Sam En said.

The dispute began in March, and it has disrupted both the lives of the farmers and the company, Phauk Sam En said.

“I tried to give other land to the people, but they refused, and insisted on their own land. Since last year, the company has been trying to clear the land, but the conflict started and nothing could be done,” he said, adding the governor’s office is now negotiating with  Kim Fvil Corporation to get the company new land.

Company officials say the dispute turned violent April 10, when between 300 and 400 people stormed Kim Fvil’s potato farm, setting several fires around the property.

The vandalism cost the company more than $10,000 in damage, Phauk Sam En said.

Authorities were preparing charges of destruction of private property against Sek Puy, 41, Khy Heng, 32, Long Sao, 59, Lim Luch, 63, Heak Dum, 56, and Phat Horn, 60, for the April 10 incident, provincial Deputy Chief Chea Vuth said.

Court officials have also issued warrants for two other men who remain at large.

Police arrested the six farmers Sept 26, more than a month after the provincial court issued a warrant, Chea Vuth said.

But the farmers’ violence is partly in response to government inaction, and company violence itself, Sam Rainsy Party official Un Sokhom said. The Sam Rain­sy party has been trying to help the farmers, he added.

The farmers held two peaceful protests outside the company before the April 10 disturbance, the party official said.

At the last one, company guards brandishing guns fired into the protesters’ food piles, Un Sokhom claimed.

The six suspects in custody and the two at large were the leaders of the protests, which is why they have been arrested, the Sam Rainsy Party official said.

All six men will remain in jail for the four months until their trial, a court official said.

Thousands of Cambodians have been pushed from their land, and land disputes remain one of the country’s biggest problems as wealthy individuals, government officials or private companies continue to take properties from the poor, human rights officials say.

 

 

 

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