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Villagers scuffle with police over Boeung Kak

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Non Sok Kheng, 32 a Boeung Kak lake representative of village 23, being taken into custody during a protest yesterday outside the Phnom Penh Hotel near City Hall in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district.

TWO villagers from the Boeung Kak lakeside were arrested following a scuffle with police yesterday as about 200 villagers submitted a petition after their request for onsite resettlement was rejected by municipal authorities on Tuesday.

Tep Vanny, representative of village 22 and Nun Sokheng, representative of village 23, were arrested and sent to the Municipal Police Commissioner’s Office in Russei Keo district after protesters submitted a petition to British ambassador Andrew Mace. The petition requested intervention after villagers’ request for 4x16-metre houses for more than 1,000 families living at Boeung Kak lakeside was rejected in a letter signed by municipal governor Kep Chuktema on July 5.

“We will make a request to the government to allow you all to live [at Boeung Kak] … after municipal officials finish their measurement [of the land],” the letter said.

Tol Srey Pao, a representative of residents from village 24, said yesterday: “Why did authorities arrest us as we just protested for residents to live ... in  the Boeung Kak area?” Villagers said that the two representatives had not yet been released.

City Hall issued a statement on its website yesterday afternoon accusing villagers of pressuring municipal authorities.

Local developer Shukaku Inc was granted a 99-year lease to develop land around the Boeung Kak lakeside in 2007.

Municipal deputy police commissioner Hy Prou yesterday referred questions to municipal police chief Touch Naruth, who could not be reached for comment.

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