More than 400 families have been ordered to remove their homes built next to a rubber plantation on land in Kratie province given to Hun Mana, the daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen, or see them forcibly torn down without compensation.
The families were informed of the move in a letter issued by provincial authorities on Sunday and have a deadline of next Tuesday to comply.
Deputy district governor Sam Nal said on Monday that Memot Rubber Plantation Co. Ltd owns the land the houses stand on in Snuol district’s Pi Thnou commune, and that police and military police would help carry out the order.
“Our district authority alerted the people many times that this is company land but they did not listen,” he said.
The government granted 9,855 hectares of an economic land concession to Ms. Mana in 2008, including 700 hectares which has been cultivated into the rubber plantation, said commune chief Bun Nhal.
Memot Rubber allowed people to farm on the remaining land, he said, on the stipulation set out in contracts that they would return the land if the company needed it in the future.
From 2013 to last year, 176 families moved onto the land to occupy 5 hectare plots, most of them from Kompong Cham, Kampot and Prey Veng provinces.
They joined 418 families who already lived on the land, including 232 families of the Steang ethnic minority, Mr. Nhal said.
Families who predated the company’s contract may receive some compensation, added Mr. Nhal, who estimated the land holds about 1,000 families.
The commune chief said that local journalists had collected 300,000 riel, about $75, from residents claiming they would negotiate with the authority on their behalf, while inciting them to protest. He could not remember the name of the Khmer newspaper the journalists said they worked for. The reporters also approached the local authority and got money, although Mr. Nhal did not know how much, in return for saying they could help discourage the families from protesting.
Meth Thy, 44, who moved onto the land in 2007 and farms on a 12-by-200 m plot, said he has no intention of leaving. “I will not move from the land because my family has stayed here for more than 10 years,” he said.