Villagers issue new calls to solve old land dispute

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Villagers from Oddar Meanchey used a news conference yesterday to appeal for government action to return land at the centre of a years-old dispute with sugar companies.

The conflict erupted in 2008, when villagers were forcibly evicted from their land to allow Angkor Sugar, Tonle Sugar Cane, and Cane & Valley Sugar to start operations on economic land concessions in Samroang and Chongkal districts. The evictions led to migrations across the Thai border that still continue to this day, villagers say.

“We migrate to Thailand because we lost our land and don’t have any income anymore,” said Houy Mai, one of several representatives of the more than 250 families evicted to make way for the sugar companies, only to see the land given to the state in 2015.

“The authorities promised us that they will settle the issue as fast as they can,” she said. Villagers have filed complaints with ministries, including the Ministry of Land Management, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Justice and the cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen. So far they have had only non-committal answers from authorities.


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