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Evicted villagers to call on PM

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Preah Vihear villagers seek legal advice at the Adhoc office in Phnom Penh yesterday.

About 40 villagers representing more than 100 families in a land dispute with provincial authorities in Preah Vihear arrived at Adhoc’s office in Phnom Penh yesterday, preparing to submit a letter to the Prime Minister urging his intervention.

The residents of Svay Chrum village, in Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune, were forced by the National Authority of Preah Vihear to evacuate their homes by last Friday to make way for a government office.

Although officials have provided resettlement land in nearby Samdech Techo village, the villagers oppose the move, saying Samdech Techo has no streets, schools or hospitals.

Yav Kim, 50, said authorities had forced villagers to thumbprint a compensation agreement.

“They threatened that if we didn’t agree, they would burn [our homes] down,” she said.

In a draft of the letter the villagers plan to send to Prime Minister Hun Sen, villagers say they have rights to the disputed land based on a royal sub-decree.

Choam Ksan district governor Hai Sin confirmed yesterday that most of the village’s 160 homes had been razed by more than 300 soldiers.

Preah Vihear provincial governor Om Mara acknowledged the villagers’ rights to submit a letter, but said Svay Chrum was in a protected area and the residents must relocate.

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