Villagers Clash With Chinese Company in Koh Kong

About 20 security guards from the Chinese-owned Sino Mexim agricultural company briefly clashed with about the same number of villagers on disputed farmland in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district on Saturday, a local rights monitor said.

The clash occurred at about 8 a.m. on a disputed patch of land in the remote district after representatives of Sino Mexim, which plans to develop a rubber plantation on the land, arrived to place border markers on the land, according to Adhoc provincial rights coordinator Neang Boratino.

“The villagers prevented the security forces from installing the demarcation borders to surround the villagers’ land,” he said.

Sino Mexim received a 4,000-hectare economic land concession in Botum Sakor National Park in November 2011, Mr. Boratino explained, but 89 families already living on the land refused to move.

The firm began demarcating patches of land inside its concession for the villagers in accordance with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s “tiger skin” policy, but the villagers have disputed the size of the patches, he said.

District governor Orn Phearak said talks between the two parties should resolve the dispute.

“Things will be fine,” he said. “The villagers must take a step back and the company must stop its activities.”

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