R’kiri Villagers Say VN Officials Seized Land

Nearly 70 residents of a Ratanak­kiri province village filed a complaint with local rights group Adhoc on Sun­day, alleging that Vietnamese of­f­i­cials have destroyed their crops and laid claim to the land where they live.

Sixty-seven villagers from Ta Nga village in Andong Meas’ district’s Nhang commune thumbprinted the complaint and sent it to Adhoc asking for intervention.

“Vietnamese authori­ties…de­stroy­ed our crops and prohibited us from farming and planting vegetables in our village. They asked us to leave our village as they claim it is their land,” the villagers stated in the complaint.

They say the crop destruction be­gan late last month, while Pen Bon­nar, Adhoc provincial coordinator, said the officials in question are po­lice and soldiers.

“I am very worried because villagers have no rice to eat. They can’t farm and even if they farm behind their village Vietnamese authorities do not allow,” he said.

Vietnamese Embassy officials could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Hor Ang, deputy provincial police chief, said he has received a police report that Vietnamese officials have asked Cambodians to leave the village, after stating that maps show the village to be Vietnamese.

“Vietnamese authorities recently forced our people to leave from some parts of this village and not to farm on their land,” he said.

Defining which country the village should belong to is difficult, as Cambodians have been living there for decades but the map indicates that it is Vietnamese, he said.

Moung Poy, deputy provincial governor, said he has received a report from Andong Meas that Viet­na­mese authorities are building a road linking Ta Nga to Vietnam, though he was unaware of people’s land being cleared.

He added that he will order police and military police to investigate the claim.

“I don’t know who is right and who is wrong,” he said. “I hope it will be solved. Let the national level leaders negotiate.”

Var Kim Hong, head of the national border commission, said he was unaware of the case.

“If people have farmed in [the village] for a long time, why are they banned just now?” he said.


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