Villagers in land dispute call on Chinese embassy for help

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Villagers protest over a land dispute. KT/Chor Sokunthea

About 20 people representing 26 families locked in a land dispute with the Union Development Group in Koh Kong province gathered in front of the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday to demand that the embassy help urge the company to resolve the dispute.

Saing Puy, a representative, said UDG received rights to develop areas in Kiri Sakor and Botum Sakor districts in 2008. Ms Puy said the move affected them because no resolution was ever provided.

“We came to the Chinese embassy because China’s UDG company came, violated, and grabbed our land,” she said. “So we think that the Chinese ambassador should be responsible and instruct this company to resolve this land dispute.”

Tith Ten, another representative, said they had previously gathered in front of the embassy once before to ask for an intervention, but there was no response.

“The 26 families are asking the embassy to help urge the company to resolve this as soon as possible,” Ms Ten said. “It should not leave us to live with difficulties due to the land dispute with the company. The company does not allow us to repair the houses on our land.”

Representatives of both the Chinese embassy and UDG could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, Chai Kimthuch, another representative, said five representatives met with embassy officials to hand a letter to be submitted to the ambassador.

Ms Kimthuch said originally there were 77 families involved in the land dispute, noting that many families gave up. She said that there are 26 families who are fighting for a 432-hectare land.

Sok Sothy, deputy Koh Kong provincial governor, said the land dispute involves state land that is protected and that only the government can settle it.

“This is the government’s policy. We would solve this for people who have lived there for a long time,” Mr Sothy said. “But outsiders who came and claimed the land will not be provided with a resolution.”

Representatives of the 26 families said outside of the Chinese embassy said they will continue to gather in front of ministry offices until a resolution has been provided.

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