Villagers, Firm in Land Dispute Lodge Competing Complaints

Villagers in Koh Kong province and an employee of the Chinese firm they accuse of trying to illegally evict them have filed competing claims against each other with local police over a confrontation last week during which the two sides threw stones and petrol bombs.

The clash broke out Wednesday when the Union Development Group (UDG), which is building a $3.8-billion resort in the area, sent a pair of trucks to dump piles of dirt on the main road to a village of about 30 families in Kiri Sakor district’s Koh Sdech commune.

The villagers, who accuse the company of attempting to evict them, responded by tossing petrol bombs at one of the trucks, at which point UDG security guards pelted the villagers with stones to drive them away.

Commune police chief Ly Vanna said he received UDG’s complaint the day after the clash and the villagers’ complaint Monday. He said UDG foreman Ly Tech Hey accuses three villagers of inciting the protest and damaging one of the trucks, and that the villagers accuse the security guards of injuring five of them.

“I cannot comment now because I am putting the documents together and then I will ask for advice from my superiors,” Mr. Vanna said.

Mr. Tech Hey said he was demanding $2,000 from the villagers for breaking the lights and wing mirror of one of the trucks. He denied that the company was trying to block the road.

“We are not dumping the dirt to block the road. We are dumping the dirt to build a road to a new company port,” he said.

Sim Kimsan, one of the villagers named in Mr. Tech Hey’s complaint who also filed the complaint against UDG, said he was questioned by police Monday and denied the foreman’s claims.

“I answered to the police that I did not break the company truck’s mirror. I was in the crowd and I just yelled to the trucks to stop dumping dirt on the road,” he said.

The complaint against UDG accuses the company’s security guards of injuring five villagers and asks for $3,500 in compensation.

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