Thumbprints Gathered by Snuol Villagers; Complaint Planned

Villagers in Kratie province’s Snuol district involved in a land dispute with a rubber company said yesterday that they were collecting thumb­prints in order to file a complaint with the deputy provincial governor and rights group Adhoc over an order to destroy their homes.

A directive signed by deputy provincial governor Sun Try dated Dec 6 gives 41 families living in Khyoem commune one month to demolish their cottages, which sit inside the 7,251 hectares of the Snuol Wildlife Sanctuary the government granted to Sovan Vuthy Rubber Company for development earlier this year, said Mom Run, 46.

He said the villagers decided to file the complaint, in which they will re­quest that the concession be relocated, after attending a session on land rights organized by the Cam­bodian Center for Human Rights on Saturday.

Sovan Vuthy employees, as well as district authorities and environmental officials, plastered copies of the directive on villagers’ doors and trees over the weekend, Mr Run said, adding that villagers “are not going to move or clear our residential homes where we have been living and farming for around a decade.”

The villagers plan to finish collecting the prints later this week and lodge the complaint with the Mr Try next week, said villager Eang Phalla, 38.

“The concession must be relocated, otherwise the scale of the impact is really critical,” he said, adding that farmland owned by the roughly 2,000 families in the commune would be affected.

Deputy provincial governor Mr Try could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A copy of the directive reads: “If people fail to move from the contested land within 30 days of the issuing of this order, provincial authorities will take legal measures in demolishing the residency and will not be responsible for paying compensation.”

District governor Iv Saphum said the order had been distributed. “Just opportunists seeking personal interests are protesting against the government’s development project,” he said.

Mr Saphum said the company was preparing more than 2,000 hectares of its concession to provide new residential and farming plots for more than 800 villagers.

Sovan Vuthy foreman Ly Sarith could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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