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Activist takes KDC buyout

Villagers carry an unconscious member of their group across a creek in search of medical assistance in Kampong Chhnang on Monday after a clash with KDC employees turned violent
Villagers carry an unconscious member of their group across a creek in search of medical assistance in Kampong Chhnang on Monday after a clash with KDC employees turned violent. Heng Chivoan

Activist takes KDC buyout

A community representative who has played an active role in the long-running land dispute between residents of Kampong Chhnang province’s Lorpeang village and a politically connected company has agreed to back down after accepting compensation.

In a deal reached with KDC Company on Monday, Reach Seyma accepted $20,000 compensation for almost 1 hectare of land as well as a separate payout of nearly $2,500 to agree to stop protesting.

“For my safety, I am willing to accept the company’s recompense; otherwise, I would be arrested,” Seyma said.

In the contract, which was obtained by the Post yesterday, Seyma agreed not to provoke any opposition to KDC, which is owned by the wife of Min-ister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem.

The company has been embroiled in a land dispute with the community since 2007, when it bulldozed 145 hectares of farmland without compensating residents.

Seyma said that as an influential figure in the community, he believed the company offered him the deal in hopes that others would follow.

The deal was reached on the same day that violent clashes broke out in the area when villagers tried to block about 100 employees of KDC Company, who were armed with scythes, slingshots and iron balls, from moving land markers and clearing land in an apparent attempt to extend its concession. At least one person was beaten unconscious and 14 more injured in the violence.

Yesterday, more than 200 mixed security forces continued to surround the village.

Om Sophy said she was too scared to leave the house.

“When the forces have withdrawn, I will go out to protest against the company and will not allow it to clear our land. I will file a complaint in Phnom Penh to seek justice. I am a victim, not a criminal,” she said, as company workers armed with scythes and blaring loud music guarded her house.

Chouk Chandoeun, Kampong Chhnang governor, could not be reached yesterday, while Thai Hy, a KDC representative, declined to comment.

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