Kratie Farmers Accept Gov’t Land Offer

A group of farmers evicted to make way for a Vietnamese rubber firm in Kratie province accepted a social land concession from the government Friday, but will not leave their protest base in Phnom Penh until they see hard proof of their new plots.

Nguon Vibol, a representative of the 301 displaced families, said a group of farmers would go to the site of the 750-hectare concession in Snuol district Saturday and demand appropriate documentation and temporary housing.

If their demands are not met, they will return to Phnom Penh, where they have been camped in Stung Meanchey commune’s Samakki Raingsey pagoda for almost two weeks.

“We agree to take the concession because we don’t want to waste any more time or destabilize the country,” Mr. Vibol said. “But if the authorities expect us to sleep in the Snuol district office we will protest.”

“When we go back to Kratie, the local officials must provide tents and food on the new land or we will go back to Phnom Penh.”

The families, most of whom migrated to Snuol from Kompong Cham province in 2008, were evicted May 2 to make way for the Binh Phuoc 2 firm. When they refused to leave, their homes were burnt to the ground.

Kratie Governor Sar Chamrong said Friday that officials would prepare the necessary documents for the social land concession and hand it over to the farmers Saturday.

“If they chose not to live there, they can go and find something else by themselves,” Mr Chamrong said. “They can go anywhere they want, just not the [Binh Phuoc 2] land concession.”

Chan Soveth, senior investigator for human rights group Adhoc, said he would accompany the farmers’ delegation to their new land—which the farmers say is less than 10 km from the Binh Phuoc 2 concession.

“If the local officials prepare the documents quickly, the people will move back to the province,” Mr. Soveth said.

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