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Residents camping on disputed Siem Reap land

Villages sit on a farm plot in Siem Reap’s Run Ta Ek commune earlier this week during a stand-off with the Apsara Authority. Photo supplied
Villages sit on a farm plot in Siem Reap’s Run Ta Ek commune earlier this week during a stand-off with the Apsara Authority. Photo supplied

Residents camping on disputed Siem Reap land

Nearly 100 villagers from 38 families in Siem Reap have camped out on their farms for the past five days, as their stand-off with the Apsara Authority continues.

The 161-acre land dispute in Banteay Srei district’s Run Ta Ek commune has gone on for the past 10 years, with villagers claiming that the authority wants to eject them without giving them a proper alternative.

Villagers said yesterday they will stay put, even though Apsara staff allegedly took down their makeshift camp two days ago and brought out an excavator to clear their farms.

“We stay on our farms day and night to defend our land,” said Haun Ravuth, 30, one of the protesting villagers. “They clear our land without finding a solution for us.”

Another villager, Hout Hom, said that the families had lived there since 1997.

Long Kosal, a spokesman for Apsara, said that only 13 of the families have legitimate claims to the land and that Apsara already offered them alternate parcels.

According to Kosal, the authority still wants to initiate a dialogue with the other 25 families. He did not comment on the alleged camp removal.

“Even though we don’t recognise [the 25 families’] claims, we still want to engage them,” he said.

So Son, governor of Banteay Srei, told villagers that the authority had created a committee to find a solution but said villagers wanted to see more documents before they were convinced it was legitimate.

Additional reporting by Igor Kossov

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