Kampot Police May Arrest Protest Leader

Military police in Kampot province on Monday said they would arrest a vocal member of a Chhuk district community locked in a land dispute with the provincial government if he failed to produce land titles for the hundreds of families claiming part of the contested plot.

The landless families have been squatting on 1,300 hectares of land in Decho Aphivat commune that they claim was promised to them in 2012 as part of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nationwide land-titling project.

Since then, however, the plot has been set aside as social land concession for the families of some 240 military veterans, according to deputy provincial military police commander Sem Soeun.

Mr. Soeun said a total of 200 landless families are living on the plot, and that the province would be willing to give them a portion of it if they can provide documents proving they are entitled to reside there.

In a letter dated Friday, Ly Kimhong—whose family is among the 200—was ordered to appear at the Kampot military police headquarters Monday to be questioned over his involvement in a number of demonstrations over the disputed land in Decho Kbal Damrey village.

On Monday, Mr. Soeun said Mr. Kimhong “will be arrested if he doesn’t have documents to prove that those people own the land, because he created problems and incited the people.”

Mr. Soeun said military police wanted to question Mr. Kimhong over an incident in late April, when he led a group of people in an attempt to halt the demarcation of the plot. But Mr. Kimhong did not show up Monday, he said, adding that military police would summon him again later this week.

“If he does not come, we will make a report and send it to the court,” Mr. Soeun said.

Contacted Monday, Mr. Kimhong—who claims to have a land title recognized by the village and commune but not the province—said he did not go to the military police headquarters because he feared he would be arrested for leading the protests.

“I was worried I’d be arrested because the authorities have attempted to catch me many times,” he said.

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