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Protest for Land Titles at Ministry

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
The children of some of the protesting families made their own signs. KT/Mai Vireak

About 200 people representing 540 families from the Prek Takong 1 and Kva communities in the capital’s Meanchey and Dangkao districts gathered in front of the Land Management Ministry for the fourth time yesterday, asking to receive titles from land cut from the ING City development project.
 
At the gathering, protesters sang songs and held banners attached with birth certificates, accommodation books and national identity cards to clarify they lived there with recognition from local authorities.
 
Um Nary, a representative of the 540 families, said they had already submitted three petitions to the ministry for intervention, but had received no solution, forcing them to gather for a fourth time to request land titles from ministry leaders.
 
“The company has not provided proper information to allow us to live calmly which makes us worried that we will be forced to leave our land and homes like in Boeung Kak and Borei Keila,” he said.
 
Pov Vannak, 16, stood holding a banner in front of the ministry.
 
“We want to live there because my parents work there, and some people fish or plant morning glory. It’s near our school and there are hospitals and other services. We don’t want them to take our land for development,” she said.
 
Citizen groups also asked the ministry to create a commission to check on the situation and measure land. They gave the ministry two weeks and warned of a mass protest if there was no response.
 
Seng Lot, a ministry spokesperson, asked the protesters for time to find a solution because the case was large and authorities needed to resolve with related parties before making any announcements.
 
“This work does not just concern one ministry and includes local authorities and related parties who need to work together to reach a solution that can be considered appropriate and correct according to legal principles,” he said.
 
The ING City development project covers 2,572 hectares of land reclaimed from the Boeung Tompun wetlands about three to four kilometers south of Phnom Penh. It borders Chamkarmon, Meanchey and Dangkao districts.
 
Under the 2014-2020 master plan, ING City is to be developed in four stages. Renderings of the project on the website of ING Holdings show the expansive Boeng Choeung Ek lake replaced by government office buildings, retirement homes for Chinese, factory outlets and an amusement park.
 
ING representatives could not be reached for comment.
 
Ses Sok Kosal, deputy director of legal affairs and human rights at City Hall, said recently that those areas belonged to the government and the company plans to develop the area into a new satellite city.
 
“Normally, development projects affect some people, but we will check whether the citizens’ documents are correct, because it is the state’s lake land,” he said.
 
Eang Vuthy, executive director for social justice NGO Equitable Cambodia, said the people had lived on the land for many years despite not having land titles. And the lake was reclassified by the government which enabled private companies to develop, so citizens should also have the right to own it privately as well.
 
“It will be good if City Hall and the company cut land out of the project for them to avoid relocation because we find change is not good for people. So a good option is to cut land for the people to develop there,” he said.

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