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Families cling to hope for land

Representatives of 44 families embroiled in a violent land dispute in Banteay Meanchey province say they are living like squatters and haven’t been granted long-promised property in the area.

Kao Ty, a defence lawyer for the families, said that his clients are among the more than 200 families in the province’s Poipet Town that Prime Minister Hun Sen allotted land to in a distribution policy for the displaced in 2005.

“So far, my clients have been faced with difficulties, and are living in the back of a dam or on the edges of streets in Kbal Spean Village,” Ty said. “And they are still waiting and looking for their land contribution from the period of seven years ago.”

The dispute dates back to 2001, village representative Hiv Sahoeuth said, when a businessman named Tin Oun alleged that the families were squatting on his land. He sued them in provincial court, won, and when the time came to implement the decision in 2003, protests broke out, which ended in the shooting deaths of five villagers.

Hundreds of families were later given land as part of the 2005 distribution policy, but dozens of them say they were left off the list.

Try Narin, governor of Poipet Town, said that the district authority had nothing left to give, and argued that Ty’s clients were not part of the 2005 plan.

“We have already distributed the lands to all of the 218 families of the land dispute since 2005,” he told the Post yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com

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