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Chroy Changvar residents protest city ultimatum

Community representative Chea Sophal speaks to the press while protesting against OCIC yesterday outside Phnom Penh's City Hall
Community representative Chea Sophal speaks to the press while protesting against OCIC yesterday outside Phnom Penh's City Hall Hong Menea

Chroy Changvar residents protest city ultimatum

Some 70 Chroy Changvar residents set to be displaced by a massive development took their grievances to Phnom Penh City Hall yesterday.

The villagers, who are affected by the $1.6 billion Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) satellite city project, presented a thumbprinted petition objecting to City Hall’s “final offer” for villagers to voluntarily give up 90 percent of their land or lose it all.

City Hall issued the ultimatum on February 28, giving the villagers 30 days to accept.

One villager, Yors Sophat, said she owned some 5,000 square metres of land and balked at the thought of being handed a fraction of that space. “I cannot accept the deal because it is very small [some of] our villagers have owned the land since 1979 and some lived there before the Khmer Rouge,” she said.

Villager representative Chea Sophat said the group would be amenable to accepting 65 percent of their land.

“They want to take our land and give us back only 10 percent . . . We keep demonstrating to show that we do not agree with [this] decision,” he said.

He said a government official had agreed to pass the petition to City Governor Pa Socheatvong, and said they would get a response to their demands within a week.

But City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey implied the decision was final. “We have considered their case carefully . . . Giving them 10 percent is the last decision made,” he said. “Next week, we will inform them . . . in case something new happens.”

Touch Samnang, project manager at OCIC, which has long distanced itself from the dispute, declined to comment.

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