A fleet of bulldozers owned by an unknown company and accompanied by armed RCAF soldiers began razing some 300 hectares of contested farmland in Oddor Meanchey’s Anlong Veng district yesterday, village representatives said.
“There were four soldiers with RCAF uniforms and AK-47s, and every bulldozer driver had one weapon with him,” said Veng Phan, a representative of Anlong Veng commune’s Ou Tameng village. According to Mr Phan, six bulldozers began destroying the land early yesterday morning, stopping after three hours when local reporters arrived and began photographing the scene.
The company did not reveal its name to the villagers, said Mr Phan.
“Now, we are seeking its name and whether it is a legal or illegal company that grabbed our farmlands. The company rented 10 soldiers to guard their belongings, such as their bulldozers,” he added.
More than 300 families thumbprinted a formal complaint yesterday afternoon and submitted it to commune, district and provincial-level authorities, said Mr Phan, noting that this was not the first such clash villagers had had with the unknown company.
“The company bulldozed here last week,” he said.
Oddor Meanchey provincial governor Pich Sokhin said that he had not yet received the complaint, but that the government was already looking into the incident.
“I have ordered my colleagues to go there and investigate this illegal company who bulldozed the villagers’ farmland without alerting our Cabinet,” said Mr Sokhin. Anlong Veng district governor Yim Phanna could not be reached for comment.
Brigadier general Nuon Nov, deputy commander of RCAF’s Region 4 in Anlong Veng, said that he too was investigating the matter.
“I heard one private company rented RCAF forces from Brigade 41 to guard its own company, but I don’t know its name yet,” he said. “I am asking their commander to find out the name of that private company.”