Villagers in Ratanakkiri province have told local rights group Adhoc that Cambodian police asked them to leave their homes last week because they are living on Vietnamese territory, an Adhoc official said.
Ta Nga villagers in Andong Meas district’s Nhang commune already filed a complaint to Adhoc last week alleging that Vietnamese authorities had destroyed their crops, prohibited them from farming and told them to leave.
Pen Bonnar, Adhoc provincial coordinator, said Tuesday that villagers are now claiming that district police officials have also visited the village, which sits approximately 200 meters from a Vietnamese military post, to tell the villagers the same thing: Their land belongs to Vietnam, and they must leave.
Deputy Ratanakkiri Province Police Chief Hor Ang said Tuesday that he had not heard about the villagers’ allegations.
“They are not forced to leave their village,” he said.
Hor Ang has previously said that determining what country the village is in is difficult, because Cambodian families have been living there for decades, but the Vietnamese have a map showing that the village is theirs.
Provincial Governor Moung Poy said the villagers have a right to live where they are and vowed to investigate the allegations.
“The province has no policy to allow the police to do this. Where they are living, they must continue to live,” Moung Poy said. “Nobody dares to chase them away.”
Pen Bonnar said the villagers had moved to their current location after being displaced from their old village 20 km away by the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s.
“The people are hopeless,” Pen Bonnar said. “Vietnamese militias are always disturbing them and prohibiting them from farming, and they destroyed a few hectares of cashew trees and other crops.”
Vietnamese Embassy officials could not be reached for comment.