Families file complaint with Adhoc, say they need land for wet-season farming
Fifty-three families protested in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samraong City yesterday and filed a complaint with the human rights group Adhoc, claiming the 42nd RCAF Brigade had taken 100 hectares of farmland for soldiers stationed at Ta Moan temple, villagers and the rights group said.
Villager representative Hong Im said soldiers began building houses on the land in Banteay Ampil district in April, and the land was now needed for wet-season rice farming. The soldiers have offered only $300 per hectare for the land in Kokmon commune, he said.
“Soldiers from Brigade 42 confiscated farmland that we have used since 2000. They have not offered reasonable compensation,” Mr Im said. “We cannot accept $300 per hectare. We need a reasonable price.”
Colonel Nak Vong, brigade commander and chief of staff for Military Region 4, said he was unaware of any offers of compensation. The land was given to soldiers as it belonged to the province, he said.
“I don’t know where the villagers’ land is. But I know this was the provincial authority’s land, and they gave it to the soldiers for housing,” he said.
Chhim Savuth, Oddar Meanchey provincial cabinet chief, said he could not comment on the villagers’ complaint because he had not yet received it. He said the land was given to the soldiers by the ministries of Rural Development and Land Management. He also said that RCAF was using land owned by the provincial authorities.
Adhoc provincial coordinator Srey Naren said his organization was still studying the complaint, but would forward it to provincial authorities.
“This land has been controlled by the villagers for more than 10 years. The authority has to pay them something reasonable if they want this land,” he said.