Minority Families File Complaint Against Chinese Firm

Nearly two dozen ethnic Kuoy families filed a complaint with the Preah Vihear Provincial Court on Tuesday, accusing a Chinese-owned sugarcane plantation of clearing their rice fields and resin trees last week, according to villagers.

The minority families are among 367 in Tbeng Meanchey district’s Brameru commune that have been feuding with the Lan Feng company since 2012, the year after the firm was awarded a roughly 9,000-hectare concession on land the community says it has been cultivating for generations.

The conflict came to a head on December 29, when some 400 Kuoy villagers hijacked a pair of bulldozers and detained their drivers overnight.

“In the complaint, villagers demand that Lan Feng pay $5,000 for each of the [23] families because they cleared…their farmland and cut resin trees in a community forest on three days: December 29, 30, 31,” said Ouk Poeun, whose family was one of those that filed the complaint.

Mr. Poeun added that the document also requests that the court revoke the company’s concession.

“We are keeping the two bulldozers at the commune office and we have agreed not to return them to the company unless authorities revoke the license from the Lan Feng company,” he said.

Provincial court prosecutor Khut Sopheang said Tuesday he had not seen a complaint from the Kuoy families.

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