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Villagers battle Phanimex company

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Protesters hold photos of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife. KT/Mai Vireak

About 30 people representing 218 families in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district who are entrenched in a land dispute with development company Phanimex gathered in front of the Land Management Ministry yesterday to request a prompt resolution for the dispute.

Meanwhile, a Borei Keila resident who also had a land dispute with Phanimex was summoned by the Interior Ministry for questioning yesterday following a complaint from the company.

A resident who only gave his name as Chantrea said the 218 families had a land dispute with Phanimex owner Suy Sophan on 58 hectares of land in Prey Thmey commune since 1997, and had already requested intervention from the ministry several times.

He added that last month, they also asked the Minister of Land Management to speed up resolution of the dispute, but had received no information, so they decided to gather in front of the ministry again.

“We are asking the ministry to intervene to speed up resolution, and we ask to be allowed to use the land temporarily because for more than two years, the company of Ms Suy Sophan has erected fences to keep people off the land,” he said. “We are facing living difficulties. If we have no land to farm or plant crops, our lives will only get worse.”

The people’s petition also accused Ms Sophan and her team of conspiring with local authorities to fake documents and create new land titles, saying the land belonging to Ms Sophan and her accomplices was in another location 270 metres away.

Ol Sok Yos, an administrative official of the Land Management Ministry, accepted the petition and invited some representatives into the ministry to file the documents, which he said would be sent to a working group for settlement.

Meanwhile, Phok Sophin, a representative of the Borei Keila community in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district, was summoned by the Interior Ministry for clarification after Ms Sophan filed a lawsuit against her.

Ms Sophin said after her questioning that the Phanimex owner had filed a complaint against her, alleging that she was leading protesters in front of her house.

“They cleared my land in 2006. I lost my land and my house, and they also filed a complaint against me. We protested in front of Ms Suy Sophan’s house because there was no solution,” she said.

“If the company had not destroyed our homes, we wouldn’t have protested. I had two houses, they solved one case for me and the other house was destroyed, which is why I am still protesting.”

According to Ms Sophin, Interior Ministry officers allowed her to return home after her questioning and told her to tell people to stop protesting in front of Ms Sophan’s house.

Ms Sophan said yesterday that she filed the complaint against Ms Sophin because she already received two houses in compensation and redress from City Hall, but still protested in front of her house.

“She has already received two houses at Borei Keila, a house for her brother and another for her family,” Ms Sophan said. “And she later also got redress from City Hall for her children in Andong village but she still comes to shout loudly and protest at my house.”

Ms Sophan declined to comment on the land dispute in Chbar Ampov district’s Prek Thmey commune.

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