More snarling among neighbors
October 14, 2007, 4:45 am
Filed under: Border Issues

More snarling among neighbors

By Moeun Chhean Nariddh

 

A LONG-STANDING border dispute between Kompong Cham villagers and their Vietnamese neighbors briefly threatened to flare into violence recently.

Kompong Cham governor Hun Neng confirmed the incident where Vietnamese authorities – and armed soldiers – used bulldozers to raze around 100 hectares of farmland and cashew crops.

“Sometimes we almost roll our shirt sleeves up at one another,” Hun Neng told the Post. However, he said that following meetings between Cambodian and Vietnamese border officials the two sides “have agreed to the status quo.”

The incident occurred on May 22 in Chan Moul commune of Memot district 86km east of the provincial town, where Vietnamese soldiers from Post 819 accused the Cambodian farmers of planting cashews on Vietnamese soil.

Local officials confirmed that the soldiers fired over the heads of local farming families, as both sides claimed ownership of the disputed land.

Hun Neng said the Cambodian border soldiers had been advised not to counter-attack the Vietnamese troops. He said the problem of land disputes in the area had happened since the Sangkum Reastr Niyum period.

Currently, the problem is a continuing one in seven communes in Memot district and three communes in Ponhea Krek district, he said. This involves more than 3,000 hectares of disputed land.

The governor said the Vietnamese local authority had told the Khmer farmers to write a request to rent plots of farm land from them, “but we’ve forbidden our people to do so lest [the Vietnamese] use this [to later prove ownership],” Hun Neng said.

He said the two sides had often reach agreement, only for the Vietnamese commune and village authorities to ignore and continue harassing the Khmer farmers.

“Now we are wondering whether it is their [the commune’s] own decision or tricks from the top,” Hun Neng said.

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng was quoted by Reaksmei Kampuchea in a meeting with provincial governors on June 9 as saying that he would organize a delegation to inspect the disputed land.

Kheng said he had advised the Kompong Cham governor to report any changes on the land issues to the Ministry of Interior.

Late last year, Hun Neng sent a report to the co-Prime Ministers that about 870 hectares of land in Memot and Krek districts had been lost to the Vietnamese. However, some communes had not recorded their land loss, he said.

The governor said that the Vietnamese could move border signs but not landmarks such as pagodas, villages and roads. In Svay Rieng province, a Cambodian temple was on land that was being claimed as Vietnamese territory.

A total of 1200 square km of border land in Takeo, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kompong Cham and Kampot provinces is in dispute.

The government last year set up a committee headed by the co-Prime Ministers to consider border issues.

Phnom Penh Post, Issue 4/12, June 16 – 29, 1995
© Michael Hayes, 2000. All rights revert to authors and artists on publication.
For permission to publish any part of this publication, contact
Michael Hayes, Editor-in-Chief
http://www.PhnomPenhPost.com – Any comments on the website to
Webmaster

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