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Families hold placards yesterday in Phnom Penh during a demonstration at Freedom Park calling for the government to fast track a resolution to their land dispute issues
Families hold placards yesterday in Phnom Penh during a demonstration at Freedom Park calling for the government to fast track a resolution to their land dispute issues. Vireak Mai

Land disputes aired in capital

Nearly one hundred people from three provinces gathered at Freedom Park yesterday to demand that the government help them solve their long-running land disputes.

“Please, [we ask the] National Assembly to help settle and help investigate the corruption in the land disputes, and ask the government led by Samdech Hun Sen to help speed up the cases and offer land titles for us because we are living damn miserably,” said Om Sam Ol, a representative of 147 families from Pailin’s Sala Krao district.

The gathering of families from Battambang, Pailin and Preah Sihanouk provinces occurred as a group of former Khmer Rouge soldiers from Banteay Meanchey’s Malai district left their temporary base at a local pagoda and marched to the Council of Ministers to ask for help with a feud over nearly 3,000 contested hectares.

Yesterday’s show of dissent marked the latest round of such protests since August 19 when Hun Sen lashed out at officials for not reporting land conflicts to him, in turn setting off a slew of marches on the capital as aggrieved residents took their opportunity to make their voices heard.

“The government still settles the matter for people, but the promise is made step by step, because it is not a normal case,” said Seng Savorn, a member of the commission on land disputes at the Council of Ministers, who accepted the petition.

Ith Savoeun, a community representative from Malai, warned if there is no resolution within one week, people would meet again in front of the Council of Ministers.

After filing the petition, they planned to march from Russian Boulevard to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s mansion, but they were stopped by Daun Penh district security guards and armed forces.

Pailin and Preah Sihanouk provincial governors could not be reached, but Ko Somsaroeut and Chan Sophal, Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provincial governors, respectively, said that the authorities were trying to cope with the land disputes.

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