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Preah Vihear villagers take case to PM

Nearly 70 villagers from Preah Vihear’s Choam Ksan district gathered in the capital yesterday and submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen urging his intervention in a land dispute with provincial authorities.

Last Friday, the National Authority of Preah Vihear began dismantling the homes of residents in Kantuot commune’s Svay Chrum village to make way for a government office. The residents have been forced to relocate to a nearby village they claim lacks infrastructure.

Representative Phan Poeun said the villagers made stealth trips to the capital, careful not to draw the attention of provincial authorities. “We came secretly because if the authority found out, they would stop us and arrest us,” he said.

The villagers gathered at Butom Votey pagoda yesterday and displayed 10 banners with photos of the authorities in question and the plea, “[we] ask Samdech Hun Sen and Bun Rany to grant us the right to live in Svay Chrum village forever”.

Kong Chamroeun, a member of Hun Sen’s cabinet, accepted the letter and said that while he “forwarded it to the group who works on these cases,” he did not “know whether the letter has been read by them”.

Preah Vihear provincial governor Om Mara, meanwhile, denied that the villagers were residents of Svay Chrum.

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