MORE than 80 families from Dangkor district’s Choeung Ek commune protested in front of Wat Botum in central Phnom Penh on Thursday, requesting Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in a land dispute with recent arrivals in the area, villagers said Thursday.
Protestor Theb Korn, 47, who represents 84 families in Choeung Ek village, said a 60-metre by 265-metre plot of empty land has been illegally occupied by 26 families since 2007, and that it has been under the joint control of the villagers since 1980.
“In 2007, [three businessmen] come to ask our villagers to construct temporary houses to live [on the land], and promised to give it back to the 84 families when we needed it,” she said.
Villager La Luot said residents agreed for the three men to construct a 5-by-10-metre temporary house on the vacant land, but that the land was then illegally sold to the 26 families, who were previously landless.
“We would like to ask the prime minister to help us order the 26 families who settled on that land to tear down their houses and give the right back to us to control and share it among us,” he said.
Choeung Ek commune chief Cheng Soeun said the authorities had divided the remaining land into 5-by-10-metre plots to give to the 84 families, but that they wanted the newcomers to leave so they could get larger plots.
Hem Hen, one of the three men alleged to have illegally sold the land, could not be reached for comment Thursday.