Families seek to Farm Land Claimed by RCAF

Some 300 families from Bantey Meanchey province’s Preah Netr Preah district-embroiled in two separate long-running disputes with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF)-yesterday submitted complaints to the provincial governor asking for permission to temporarily farm on the land until the ownership dispute is resolved, villagers and authorities said. … In Chop Vary commune, villagers have farmed about 26 hectares of land since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 according to [village representative] Mr. [Mean] Sam Aun. He added that they stopped farming temporarily when the RCAF’s artillery unit moved into the area in 1988, but recommenced after the unit’s withdrawal in 1994-up until the military moved back again last year. … In Preah Netr Preah commune, 254 families have been contesting 174 hectares of land-which they have farmed since 1994-since RCAF’s tank unit arrived in 2008. Village representative Meas Ny told a similar story of families who relied on farming to survive being forced to illegally cross the Thai border for work. … Brigadier General Lanh Kao, who in the past said that the RACF tank unit needed to build a headquarters in Preah Netr Preah commune to protect the border, could not be reached for comment yesterday.