Villagers Released After Agreeing to Stop Protests

Kampot provincial police released two villagers Thursday after forcing them to sign a contract saying they will cease their protests against the company they say is stealing their ancestral land.

Two villagers were arrested in Kompong Trach district on Wednesday as they blocked excavators belonging to the Van Vanna construction company, which is clearing the land for development.

Representative Hin Try, 67, said the police also beat two protesters with handcuffs, resulting in the need for medical treatment—a charge provincial deputy police chief Mao Chan Makthurith denied.

“We forced the pair to make a contract not to prevent the company’s land clearance and we released them today after educating them,” he said.

Mr. Chan Makthurith said 30 police officers are standing guard on the land to ensure villagers do not return and burn the company’s equipment. Provincial court prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot said the company has the legal right to develop the land.

“I issued a court injunction to protect the company’s land because they have a land title and the family doesn’t have evidence to prove that the land belongs to them,” he said.

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