Lawmakers from both the ruling party and the opposition yesterday met with and promised Kampong Chhnang villagers they would seek a solution in their 12-year-long land dispute with KDC International.
Five Cambodia National Rescue Party representatives visited the Lorpeang villagers jailed over their involvement in the bitter dispute between 82 villagers and an agribusiness owned by Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem’s wife.
At the same time, lawmakers from the Cambodian People’s Party met with protesting villagers camped out in the capital’s Boeung Kak community to protest their case. The ruling party politicians promised to help arbitrate a solution, and asked the villagers to return to their hometown, according to Ke Chan Mony, a CPP lawmaker for Kampong Chhnang.
In response, the village representatives delivered a blunt, three-point petition: first, release and drop charges against the five jailed representatives; second, settle their land dispute with KDC; and third, stop building fences around their land.
Chan Mony told the villagers she would intervene regarding the contested land, but added the caveat that the ruling party “cannot solve the dispute on our own”.
“We will do whatever we can to get the five released, but we have to discuss how, because it is under the court’s jurisdiction,” she said.
Om Sophy, a representative for the Lorpeang villagers, said she’s heard the same lukewarm promises from the ruling party representative before.
“If she could settle the dispute, she would have done it a long time ago and not let it drag on for over 10 years, making us suffer by getting beaten and jailed,” Sophy said.
At the Kampong Chhnang provincial prison, CNRP representatives echoed similar promises to four detained village representatives. A fifth arrested has been hospitalised due to injuries allegedly sustained during a clash that led to arrests.
“We will work together to get the five released and ask the provincial authorities and cadastral offices to give back the land that was seized by KDC,” said Ho Vann, one of the lawmakers visiting the prison.
KDC representatives could not be reached for comment.