Border police in Banteay Meanchey province were unable to stop 30 Thai farmers from plowing land inside Cambodia territory on Monday and had to wait for Thai officials to arrive and order the farmers back across the border, according to local officials.
Prak Sarath, deputy commander of border police unit 911, said the farmers had driven five tractors onto Cambodian land in O’Chrou district’s O’Beichoan commune.
“They plowed about 1 hectare on Cambodia land even though our border police officials were standing by to prevent them,” Mr. Sarath said.
“There was no violence,” he added. “A Thai border police chief came to negotiate and ordered the farmers to return back.”
The farmers were also turned back in early June, when they crossed the border with 10 tractors to plow the land.
“I think someone incited Thai farmers to plow on Cambodian land because it is clearly marked as Cambodian land by both governments,” Mr. Sarath said.
Thais have been farming the land off and on since the 1980s. But a 2011 survey of the area by the Thai-Cambodian Joint Border Committee determined it was part of Cambodia. The two countries signed a deal in 2007 to allow Thai farmers to use about 200 hectares in the district, but the agreement was called off in 2011.
Banteay Meanchey governor Kousoum Saroeuth said the Thai government has once again requested permission from Cambodia for the farmers to continue using the land, but the government has not yet made a decision.
“Governors haven’t met to discuss conditions,” Mr. Saroeuth said, declining to specify when the two sides might eventually meet.
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said Thai farmers should respect the 2011 agreement.
“It is a violation of Cambodia territory and sovereignty,” he said.