Villagers Claim Police Told Them To Leave Land

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.

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