Villagers in Land Dispute Summoned to Court

Seven ethnic Bunong villagers in a land dispute with a Vietnamese-owned rubber plantation in Mondolkiri province have been summoned by the provincial court for questioning after the company accused them of illegally occupying its land in Keo Seima district.

About 200 Bunong families in Sre Chhouk commune say the Binh Phuoc 1 plantation has encroached on land they have been farming for generations.

But the company says it was granted a concession by the government, and local officials claim the families only arrived recently.

Authorities razed dozens of their homes last month, but the farmers returned and erected 12 shelters on the site.

The summons, dated Tuesday and signed by deputy prosecutor Chea Sovanthet, says the seven must appear at the court Friday. Yan Mao, 31, one of the villagers listed in the summons, denied the allegations but said he planned to appear in court.

“I believe that this court’s allegation is unjust because they do not take action against the company,” he said.

“I am worried that I may be arrested because the court is not independent.”

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