Tuesday, 11.3.2008: Land Issue in Koas Kralor District: Civilians and Armed Forces Face Each Other

Posted on 12 March 2008. Filed under: Week 551 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 551

“Battambang: Currently, land disputes have almost become a battlefield of bloodshed between citizens – 157 families – and two groups of military forces who had set up a base to protect the land at a development area in Military Region 5, the land abandoned [by its former residents] at Andoung Kantuot, Kork Roka village, Daun Ba commune, Koas Kralor. Chronic land disputes between civilians and the armed forces happened since 2006, so that many houses of farmers were demolished and burned. The police and the citizens alleged that this was done by the military forces that now protect the land. Moreover, the military forces were accused of shooting to threaten citizen continuously, like on a fighting battlefield. Recently, the war to fight for land between civilians and armed persons who are confronting each other had intensified, after a 20-strong military force of Military Region 5, divided into two groups, was sent by their military commander to camp regularly on the disputed land for a month.

“According to a report by local police, the land dispute at Andoung Kantuot between 157 families and military forces at the development area in Military Region 5 continued for many years, until there was anarchical arms fire by the armed forces that destroyed many houses of the villagers in the past. The local police stated that the worsening situation abated occasionally only after the disappearance of military officials from the disputed land. The report said that for about one month, the situation got worse to the point that some villagers’ houses were burned down. The noise of gunfire thundered again like in a battlefield after two groups of a 20-strong military force of Military Region 5 camped to stand by at the disputed land.

“According to a report by the Koas Kralor District Police Inspectorate, the final conflict between citizens and two groups of military forces in March 2008 escalated into a severe confrontation so that there was gunfire and some houses were demolished and destroyed; this happened three times. The first case happened on 5 March 2008; the second at midnight on 6 March 2008; and the last on the night of 7 March 2008. The report by the police above said that six citizens lodged a complaint, alleging that the two groups of military forces committed these acts and some of these groups, armed with hand grenades, came and demolished their houses and also burned their houses down, and they shot to threaten the citizens, living on the disputed land, repeatedly.

“According to one complaint filed by victimized citizens, on 5 March 2008, a military official brought his clique to demolish the houses of victimized citizens and the houses of other fellow villagers, and the group used guns many times to give noisy signals as threats to force the 157 families at Andoung Kantout to leave the disputed land. Until the night of 7 March 2008, like in previous times, the military forces demolished the houses of villagers and shot like thunder at night to evict the villagers to leave the land. The victimized citizens said they had been living on the land since 1999, and some of them lived there even since 1998 on the disputed land.

“Concerning the allegations by the authorities and the citizens against the military forces at the development area above, Major Chem Khem, the Commander of the development area at Military Region 5 in Koas Kralor district, told Koh Santepheap on the phone that on the morning of 10 March, the disputed land of approximately 300 hectares, which is development land of the Military Region 5, was allocated by the unit for military families, after Khmer Rouge forces had been integrated. The military commander added that after the allocations in 1998 or 1999, some military personnel sold the land and went to live far away, while others live on their allocated part of the land until now. Separately, members of these 157 families, who are anarchists, often go and grab land everywhere, as their ringleader Hun Sengly caused repeatedly unrest, starting from the land dispute at Boeng Pram in Bovel district.

“Chem Khem added that his 20-strong military force that is divided into two groups was authorized by General Tor Bunseng, the commander of Military Region 5, who had agreed to his proposal to camp at the disputed land to keep security. He said that the gunfire was really made by his forces, but it was just to shoot to defend themselves after citizens, armed with knives, axes, and sticks, stormed into the military camp over there. But the commander denied that his forces demolished or burned the houses of villagers as accused.

“According to a report by the police in Koas Kralor, the police stated that the initial case was caused by the military force at the development area of Military Region 5, starting from 9 March 2006 to 7 March 2008, the final day of the conflict between citizens and the military forces. Such conflicts happened ten times, and several dozens of houses were demolished or burned down, and gunfire was shot by the military forces repeatedly.

“However, this accusation was rejected by Chem Khem, the commander of the development area in Military Region 5. He confirmed that his forces consist of only military officials, and he asked why it would be necessary that his forces treated citizens like that. He said that in some cases, his forces backed away without counter-attacking citizens, in order not to have a confrontation between villagers and the military forces. Therefore, the accusation was wrong.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6293, 11.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2761, 11.3.2008

  • Within Two Months of 2008, Cambodian People’s Party of Meanchey District Received 4,000 New Members

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1589, 11.3.2008

  • Human Rights Party Was Not Allowed to Install Its Signboard Near Sewer [because it had no permission from the municipality – 10 March – Tuol Kork]
  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] Rejects [Human Rights Party President] Mr. Kem Sokha’s Request for a Television Discussion
  • Illegal Constructions to Claim Land in Veal Veng Suppressed [Pursat]
  • Hundreds of Hectares of Trees Illegally Cut [to claim land – Oddar Meanchey]
  • Socialists Win Elections Again in Spain

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6293, 11.3.2008

  • Land Issue in Kors Kralor District: Civilians and Armed Forces Face Each Other
  • High Price of Rice Creates Problems for Some Countries in Asia

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3409, 11.3.2008

  • Land Disputes in Cambodia May Cause Rebellion and Political Instability in Society

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4537, 11.3.2008

  • Sam Rainsy [president of Sam Rainsy Party] and Kem Sokha [president of Human Rights Party] Reject Another Attempt of Samdech Krom Preah [Prince Ranariddh suggested again that all nationalists join together]
  • Ahmad Yahya [former Sam Rainsy Party member who has recently been appointed as an advisor to the government] Finds Arab Countries to Be Sources of Aid and That This Should Not Be Overlooked

Have a look at last week’s or some former editorials

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