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Land petitioners return to capital

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Villagers locked in land disputes protest in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Three groups made up of nearly 100 people in land disputes from Siem Reap, Koh Kong and Kandal provinces gathered yesterday in front of the Ministry of Land Management and the Prime Minister’s cabinet office asking the institutions to resolve their problems.

They say private companies and commune authorities grabbed their farmland and have held it for many years.

Tes Choeurn, representing people from Siem Reap province, said 47 families from Romchek community in Banteay Srey district’s Romchek commune had been affected by a farmland grab by Ly Um Eng and Ly Um Chhay companies on 147 hectares since 2004.

They had petitioned local and national authorities but there had been no solution so far. The companies were still clearing their land to plant mango trees and build a factory.

“People cannot go to the land, but the company can build fences on it to plant mango trees. People cannot go to find firewood or farm,” she said. “The authorities do not dare resolve the problem. The provincial level has taken and kept our case without resolving it.”

Protestors outside the Land Ministry. KT/Chor Sokunthea

“So, we came to the Land Management Ministry and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet office to find justice,” she added.

Ie Vanny represented 292 families in four communes of Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district who have a land dispute with Heng Development Company.

Mr Vanny said they gathered in front of the ministry to submit a petition and documents related to the land dispute.

“The people occupied 450 hectares since 1990 or 1992 but at the end of 2004, there were complaints from Heng Development Company owner Seang Chanheng that the people were living on company land,” he said.

Mr Vanny asked the ministry to step in to resolve the dispute and let the people plant their crops again.

Koh Kong petitioners representative Chhan Kheang said that ten families living in Sre Ambel district’s Chroy Svay commune had lost 12 hectares of farmland when commune chief Bun Re cleared the land to grab it in 2008.

They had come to ask the ministry to intervene and resolve the problem for them.

Ministry officials said they had accepted the petitions and told the people they would bring them to leaders to examine and find solutions.

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