In 1997, over 10,000 hectare of the forest in the district of Koh Kralor were given to Khmer Rouge army officers and leaders in exchange for their re-integration and to stop the armed conflict.
The remaining 3,800 hectares of the forest were reserved for social concessions.
Throughout the years, the former KR officers and leaders have sold part of the 3,800 hectares that are state land. In the meantime, villagers from the neighboring commune have cleared the remaining forest for farming.
The sale of the state land continues till today with the help of the commune chief, the village chief, and other former KR leaders with protection from police and the court. Villagers who have cleared the forest for farming are threatened, their crops destroyed and face arrest and detention.
I have intervened and rescued many villagers, including children who are arrested and detained. Villagers live in fear of arrest.
My question: why are local authorities allowing and are part of the sale of state land?
My solution: the committee in charge of land management should register villagers with no land and provide them land equally and with transparency, to end the dispute.
My recommendation to the people: vote for a commune chief who will defend your land and not for a candidate who will sell your land.
A day after the forum took place, a woman is accused of stealing some type of farming equipment. The commune police are threatening with arrest.
This is a threat and a message to villagers to not speak up against the local authorities.