Land protesters gather in capital

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Protesters gather in the capital yesterday. KT/Siv Channa

Hundreds of people representing thousands of families in five provinces gathered at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet office yesterday in order to resolve land disputes, including the prosecution of some activists.

According to the Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community, about 700 people representing about 7,615 families descended upon the government office to demand intervention.

It said the families hailed from the provinces of Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Svay Rieng, Tboung Khmum and Kandal, adding that the disputes are over a total of 16,279.64 hectares in the five provinces.

Yu Veasna, a representative of families in Preah Sihanouk, said 11 communities have been embroiled in land disputes with tycoons and land dealers for more than a decade. Mr Veasna said there has been no solution from the government.

“We have waited for a resolution for a long time, but we’ve had no information so far,” he said. “We can’t bear this any more, so we came to submit a petition again to ask [the government] to help resolve the problem as soon as possible because we want to have a life and a suitable home to live in like other citizens.”

Oeung Sary, a representative from Kandal, said 14 families are in dispute with Heng Development Company and that the authorities have yet to hold negotiations for compensation, while the company continues to measure, reclaim and develop areas for a new airport.

“We would like to ask Samdech Techo Hun Sen and the Ministry of Land Management to please help urge provincial authorities to accelerate a resolution because people are concerned about losing their land,” Ms Sary said. “The company came to fill the land and remove poles. The people are afraid of losing their land.”

Additionally, 200 people from Tboung Khmum province were blocked from attending the gathering by the authorities in Chroy Changva district.

Sem San, a representative, said they were riding on seven trucks when they were stopped.

Mr San said citizens in Tboung Khmum’s Dambe and Memot districts have been having a land dispute with private companies since 2011.

He said his group previously submitted petitions at ministries, the National Assembly and the prime minister’s cabinet office, but no resolution was provided.

“Some of the disputed land are communal land that have been recognised by the government since 2004,” Mr San said. “But, a Chinese company came, cleared and developed the area, which caused people to have no land for cultivation.”

“Last month, the provincial court issued summonses for 11 people to be questioned,” he added. “That’s why we wanted to come so we can ask Samdech Techo Hun Sen to help push for a resolution and ask for the court not to sue the people.”

Kong Chamroeun, a representative of the prime minister’s cabinet, yesterday said he accepted the petitions submitted by the people, and that the petitions will be handed to other officials for verification.

“We have already received all of their petitions and we have sent those documents to the Ministry of Land Management, which specialises in reviewing and resolving [problems],” Mr Chamroeun said.

After their submissions were received, the group started to make their way to the Land Management Ministry. However, they were blocked by municipal authorities from proceeding.

Land Management Ministry spokesman Seng Lot could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The group said yesterday that even though they were blocked from proceeding, ministry officials met them near Wat Botum pagoda to receive their petitions.

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