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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers protest for land rights

Villagers protest for land rights

ABOUT 20 families living in Klaing Saing village in Russei Keo district gathered outside the Russei Keo commune hall yesterday, requesting the right to land that is being bulldozed and filled with sand for the construction of a riverside park backed by petrol conglomerate Sokimex.

Construction on the proposed park began yesterday, and will initially require roughly 142 metres of riverfront space.

Sokimex, which has a petroleum depot on National Road 5 near the proposed park, is providing US$700,000 to support the project.

One of the protesters, Mi Kiev, said that people had been living on the land since 1979. He added that the initial phase of the development will only affect 20 families out of the 100-odd families that will be displaced by the park.

He said the families hoped to retain control of their land until the city embarks on the construction of the whole project.

“If the state takes only 142 metres of our land to build the park, we absolutely don’t agree; they must take it from all of the families,” he said.

In a meeting with the 20 families yesterday, Russei Keo Commune Chief Chan Samang, said the authorities needed to build the park in separate stages, and required immediate access to it.

“In accordance with the policy, authorities cannot let them control the land because City Hall needs it to develop the park,” she said.

Chan Samang said that on July 28, City Hall issued an announcement to citizens living along the river to dismantle their homes in advance of the construction.

“According to the policy, the riverbank belongs to the state,” she said. “They cannot demand compensation from the district authority.”

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