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Villagers call for PM to grant farmland

ABOUT 40 people who have fled to Phnom Penh to avoid arrest after recent land clashes in Oddar Meanchey province travelled to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence in Takhmao on Thursday to make a formal request for government intervention in their case.

Residents started fleeing to the city after authorities razed 214 homes in Oddar Meanchey’s Kounkriel commune in early October to clear 1,500 hectares of land for the construction of a sugar plantation by the Angkor Sugar Company, owned by CPP Senator Lee Yongphat.

“We sent a letter to the prime minister’s house because we want to ask him to provide us with a social land concession,” said villager Dit Saren, noting that the 30-metre-by-50-metre plots offered as compensation to villagers were too small to support their families.

Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of Hun Sen’s cabinet, said he had received a letter from the villagers and promised to forward it on to the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, promising that the issue would be investigated.

“We heard that the provincial authorities have settled their problems already, so they should accept compensation,” he said.

But Ton Nhorn, 72, said the 1-hectare plot was not enough to support the 10 members of his family, and that the government should reconsider its offers.

“If they don’t provide us with what we are suggesting, please give us about 3 hectares of farmland,” he said.

He said villagers had denied requests from Hun Sen’s cabinet to return to their home province, saying they fear arrest if they return.

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