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Arrest of Woman in Land Dispute Sparks Worries

The arrest of a woman in Battambang province following her arrest by authorities in a land dispute has sent other villagers into jungle hiding, a rights official said Friday.

Chan Hoeur, who is in her 40s and a resident of Koy Veng village, was arrested Thursday following a confrontation with police over land and a private company, said Yin Meng Ly, a Battambang rights investigator for Adhoc.

The villagers saw their land stolen this year after occupying it since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Yin Meng Ly said, adding that the land legally belonged to the villagers under Cambodia's land law.

Some villagers have gone into the jungle to hide, fearing they will be arrested too, he said.

"It's a bit unjust because the company plowed over the villagers' land. Hectares of mango and banana trees were damaged, and no one is talking about this," said Sun Seouy, of the Village Development Council. "The villagers seem to be more vulnerable; we're all human beings."