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Chroy Changvar residents petition city over OCIC land dispute

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People from Chroy Changvar protest a land grab by OCIC in front of Phnom Penh City Hall yesterday. Pech Sotheary

Chroy Changvar residents petition city over OCIC land dispute

Outraged families yesterday petitioned Phnom Penh City Hall in a bid to resolve a bitter land-grabbing dispute with tycoon Pung Khieu Se’s Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC).

About 70 people, representing 359 families living in Chroy Changvar district, urged the government to halt the alleged housing rights violations they suffered due to OCIC’s project.

The petition calls for one of two options – that residents be given $400 per square metre of land, as opposed to OCIC’s offer of $15, or that residents be given back half of their land, rather than 10 per cent.

OCIC project coordinator, Sok Sil Phanha, said he could not anticipate how the company would respond. Phnom Penh City Hall spokesperson Long Dimanche said yesterday that “we are solving this problem”, but would not elaborate.

The protesters said hundreds of families had lived and depended on the 185.7 hectares of land for years, with recognition from the local authorities, but their land had since been flooded with sand by OCIC.

Community representative Chea Sophat, 63, said the group had also presented the petition, along with a map proposing land divisions, to the Canadian diplomatic office and the World Bank, as Pung Khieu Se is also a Canadian citizen and because Sophat believed the World Bank had given funds to OCIC.

However, both the World Bank and OCIC denied having a financial relationship. The Canadian diplomatic office in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment. Adhoc investigator Yi Soksan urged the government to compensate victims according to the land’s market price.

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