The homes of more than 150 villagers living in a protected area near Preah Vihear temple were demolished Friday morning by approximately 100 police and military police, villagers said.
Prak Sopeak, a village representative in Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune, said that villagers attempted to stop the destruction of their homes, but were threatened by armed police and military police, who continued to demolish the 157 houses.
Villagers contend that their homes, which are located on land slated for development projects by the National Authority for Preah Vihear, had been granted reprieve. “According to a letter by the Council of Ministers…we are allowed to live here,” said Mr. Sopeak, adding that a Royal Decree and a sub-decree also allowed them to stay.
But Kantuot commune chief Moul Map said the houses were located within a protected area and had to be destroyed. Village representative Sao Yat claimed that deputy provincial governor Sar Thavy plans to build a shopping mall and a car park on the site. Mr. Thavy could not be reached for comment.