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Kampong Speu villagers protest at Phnom Penh Sugar

AROUND 100 villagers in Kampong Speu province on Tuesday staged a protest in front of the local offices of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, saying company employees operating 11 excavators had encroached on 2 hectares of land in Omlaing commune.

The company, owned by CPP senator Ly Yong Phat, has been awarded a 9,000-hectare concession in the commune, located in Thpong district, and farmers there have expressed concerns since February that they might be forced off their land as a result.

Chhuon Ly, 42, who attended Tuesday’s protest, said the company had failed to honour an agreement to stay 25 metres away from the farmers’ land.

“They promised that they would not grab our farmland, but today they did, so now we want to ask the company to find a resolution for us,” Chhuon Ly said.

Nov Chhon, another farmer who attended the protest, said residents of the commune were growing frustrated that the concession land had not been clearly demarcated.

“We just want them to explain to us clearly where the company land is and where our land is, because until today nobody has responded to this request,” he said.

Chhean Kimsuon, a representative of the company, denied that company employees had encroached on the land.

“We have kept free space 25 metres away from the villagers’ rice,” she said.

She added: “We have already told them that the concession will not affect their land, but they did not listen to us, and they have come to make a problem with us and the local authorities.”

Omlaing commune Chief Harb Dam said Tuesday that she had met with the protesters to reassure them that their land would not be affected by the concession.

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