Families forcibly evicted from their homes in Sen Sok district’s Phnom Penh Thmey commune in 2005 will return to occupy the land on Saturday, community representatives have said.
The 163 families have stayed in makeshift houses and rented properties for more than eight years since businesswomen Keo Neam had them evicted from the land using forged land titles.
They have been in a dispute with Neam since 2005 and taken her to court three times.
“We cannot wait and live in rental houses any more, so we must live on our land, because it is not Keo Neam’s,” Preoung Socheat, a representative of the families, told the Post yesterday.
“We have a protection warrant and a complete verdict from the Supreme Court. And we are the land owners.”
The families’ houses were bulldozed by the Russei Keo authorities following a complaint made by Neam, who filed a claim to the land in September 2005, alleging that the community had lived there
illegally since 1987.
Huy Khorn, another representative of the Sen Sok families, said yesterday that they would be requesting that the authorities and NGOs provide support to their legal right to live on their land.
“All of us have decided to live on that land on [Saturday] in the face of the challenges,” he said.
Another member of the community, Hang Bun, said he was offended that even though the country’s highest court had granted them the land, they still had only had their claim recognised on paper.
“We hope to be successful – that’s why we decided to live on our land,” he said.
Houy Daravy said she was concerned that upon their return, the authorities might deploy security forces to block them.
“We are afraid that when we go back they will deploy contingents of soldiers and give us a raw deal as before,” she said.
Suon Bunsak, secretary of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said that Neam should face criminal charges for faking documents in the case.
“Those who faked the documents have to face the criminal charges,” he said.
Neam could not be reached for comment yesterday.