Preah Vihear Authorities Destroy Airfield Homes

Authorities have demolished the homes of 25 families living on the site of an obsolete airfield in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district, a rights group and the families said Sunday.

The families were ordered to move off the land on Wednesday, with the district governor Sok Hai saying they had no legal rights to the land but declining to say what the area was being cleared for.

On Friday and Saturday, the au­thorities tore down all the houses after the families refused to obey the order to leave, according to Adhoc provincial coordinator Lor Chan, who said more than 30 police and military police arrived in the area to carry out the demolition.

“I received complaints from the evicted families on Saturday and I have passed them on to the pro­vincial court,” he said, adding that the families were now staying with their relatives.

The demolitions followed an incident on April 20 when the house of Thy Pov, a widow with three children, was set alight.

“My house was burned down be­cause the authorities accused me of building on state land,” Ms. Pov said. “I filed a complaint with the district police station the following day, but they didn’t do anything.”

Tin Sovannara, 40, whose house was destroyed on Saturday, said police and military police had also destroyed his small farm patch and chopped down his mango and banana trees.

“I saw many police and military police break the columns and planks holding up my house, causing it to fall down,” he said.

Choam Ksan district police chief Dam Yin declined to comment on the eviction and referred questions to Mr. Hai, who also declined to comment.

According to Adhoc, some of the villagers say they have lived on the land since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime.

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