Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy was in Poipet Sunday to draw attention to the expulsion of nearly 1,000 Tuol Prasat villagers from their homes in order to clear the way for a Thai development project. Sam Rainsy and other officials have also accused the Thais of encroaching on Cambodian territory along the Thai border.
Sam Rainsy says some of the villagers have been evicted from their homes and moved to “precarious living situations” in areas not properly demined.
Khuon Vanna, a CPP military farm manager, accompanied Sam Rainsy on his inspection, where he said 60 families have moved to an area that has not been adequately demined. An 18-year-old boy stepped on a mine in the new settlement Sunday, severing his left leg at the knee, he said.
Sam Rainsy himself claims to have nearly stepped on a land mine while touring the relocation site.
Khuon Vanna said there are more than 400 families still facing evacuation to potentially mined areas.
The opposition leader said he intends to solve the land dispute through legal measures, pushing for the implementation of existing land laws. “There is a provision in the land law that states when a person lives on a piece of land for five years, he is entitled to be the legal owner,” he said.
Banteay Meanchey province Governor Thach Khorn said he was unaware of the situation because Sam Rainsy never informed him of his visit. The governor called Sam Rainsy an “anarchist leader.”
Meanwhile, about 30 Cambodian and Thai soldiers faced off about 275 meters inside Cambodian territory Saturday, Khuon Vanna said.
“They came into Cambodia and claimed that the place is Thailand’s land and we told them that the land is Cambodia’s,” he said. They retreated after the Cambodians called the Thai-Cambodian border commission, he said.