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Villagers from six provinces stage protest over land disputes

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
One banner reads “no land no life”. KT/Siv Channa

Hundreds of villagers from six provinces yesterday rallied in front of the Land Management Ministry to seek help in resolving long-standing land disputes affecting them.

Moeun Ratana, Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community secretary who observed the protest, said that the farmers, representing 27 communities, were from Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Prey Veng, Tboung Khum and Kandal provinces.

He noted land disputes affect around 10,000 people in the communities, and 600 representatives gathered to hand over petitions to ministry officials.

“Their land disputes have gone unresolved for several years and involve companies, tycoons and officials over economic land concessions,” Mr Ratana said.

Mok Mon, from Kampong Speu, yesterday said that he represents more than 500 families in dispute with a sugar manufacturing company since 2010.

He claimed that the company grabbed five-hectares of agriculture land from him after he refused its offer to buy it.

“The compensation offered was very little if compared with the market price,” Mr Mon said.

Soeng Sokhum from Kampong Speu province said that he and other villagers had come to Phnom Penh eight times previously to petition for land concessions.

“I don’t want to come to Phnom Penh to petition because I have to spend much money on transportation but we have been asking for land since 2010,” he said.

Mr Sokhum noted that he handed over a petition to a ministry official and hoped there would be a solution this time.

Men Davy, from Svay Rieng province, said that she and others in her village also needed land concessions and will continue to protest until there is a solution

“We need land for agriculture. It is very important for our livelihoods,” she said.

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

Last week the ministry announced that it had issued 456,210 land titles so far this year.

The ministry’s annual report said that it also resolved 105 out of 817 land disputes it received; the National Land Dispute Authority solved two out of 81 cases.

It noted that the Cadastral Commission received 290 complaints and resolved 169.

Speaking at the report’s launch, Land Management Minister Chea Sophara said the number of land disputes and complaints have decreased since the establishment of the Cadastral Commission, a land dispute working group and NLDA to assist people facing land issues.

He said the ministry has also been working hard to register land for people to ensure their ownership and livelihoods are secure.

Mr Sophara said the ministry has continued to manage, use and distribute land titles in an equitable, transparent, and efficient way to increase income to reduce poverty.

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