Kompong Thom provincial authority postponed handing out promised farmland to 77 families with disabled members in Kraya commune because the provincial governor was traveling abroad, provincial Deputy Governor Uch Sam On said yesterday.
He added the families would be given their land next week at a ceremony although the exact day was not set yet.
“We have not given them the land yet because His Excellency, the governor, went to China with [Prime Minister Hun Sen],” Mr Sam On said.
The provincial authority announced last week that the families, who were part of 602 families evicted at gunpoint from their homes last year, would receive one hectare of farmland yesterday. Previously Mr Sam On said the 77 families were chosen to receive land first because they had disabled members and the other 525 families would receive land before next year’s rainy season, a year later than originally promised.
On Dec 3, 160 families filed a complaint to rights group Licadho, claiming Santuk district authorities were illegally clearing their farmland so that it could be allotted to families evicted from Kraya.
Mr Sam On denied the accusation yesterday and said the 160 families were trying to gain bigger plots of land.
“This land doesn’t affect those people’s land,” he said. “We cleared forestland to offer to the disabled families. We tried to get away from their farmland.”
On Dec 7, Santuk district governor admitted the land to be distributed came from villagers in Thma Samleang village but that the villagers had illegally cleared it for themselves.
“We will take part of their land and allow them to keep some of their land,” he said at the time.
Soeun Sinoeun, 38, said about 40 villagers had been protesting the clearing of the land since Wednesday. But so far there has been no breakthrough, he said yesterday.
“They still continue clearing the villagers’ land, even though we tried to stop them,” he said. “Sooner or later they will clear my land and I worry about losing my land.”
Yam Pharn, 55, the wife of a disabled man who was supposed to receive her plot of land yesterday, said she has not been told when she will receive her new land by authorities.
“First we heard that we would get our farmland on December 17 but right now we don’t have it yet. We are waiting,” she said.