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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Boonma land case lingers on

Boonma land case lingers on

Twenty-four families from the Mittapheap suburb of Sihanoukville have sent a thumb-printed

letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him for help in their land dispute. The families

alleged that the municipality took their land under false pretenses in 1991, then

sold it to Okhna Teng Boonma.

In the complaint letter, seen by the Post, the families stated that a former municipality

official had seized the land telling them it was required for development as a tourist

spot. They said it was then sold by the deputy governor of Sihanoukville, Khim Bo,

to Boonma. The families have been living temporarily on and off the land ever since.

Hang Chenda, representing the families, alleged that in 1996 the former deputy governor

had police and military seize the land and destroy villagers' property, including

their fruit trees. She said further incidents had happened since then: December 19

military police turned up to evict them once more.

"They threatened to kill us," she said. "The military police grabbed

the materials that we used to build on the land and burned it in front of us. They

are so cruel."

Chenda said the people simply wanted a fair exchange for another piece of land and

did not want to be pushed into the forest.

"We are simply begging whoever bought this land to please, please find a solution

or a piece of land for us to live on," she said.

Sihanoukville's newly appointed governor, Say Hak, confirmed he had received a complaint

from the villagers' representative December 19 and said he had told them he would

investigate.

"I will discuss this with the land dispute committee and check this matter,"

he said. "This case happened a very long time ago and I have only held this

position for two months."

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