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Desperate families pursue final options

A villager is restrained after trying to stop developers from demolishing her home in Preah Sihanouk province
A villager is restrained after trying to stop developers from demolishing her home in Preah Sihanouk province in 2011. Photo supplied

Desperate families pursue final options

Families who claim a foreigner fabricated documents to sell their land to port officials and a military commander more than seven years ago have desperately appealled to government bodies to intervene.

The 104 families who have exhausted legal avenues after both the provincial and Supreme Court ruled against them, yesterday handed the Post 136 photos and a 46-page document detailing their forcible eviction in 2011 from Preah Sihanouk’s commune 1.

Representative Chhun Saroeurn said his community had submitted signed complaints to government ministries and Prime Minister Hun Sen but had received no answer.

“They colluded to make the [fake] land titles secretly and used 200 forces and a bulldozer to destroy the houses,” Saroeurn said.

The former residents said they had lived in peace on the land since 1994 until a 49-year-old man known only as Tiev Biseng – a name they believe to be false, sold their land to a port official for $170,000 using phony titles in 2005.

Provincial port officials and a deputy chief commander then successfully filed a lawsuit against the villagers, accusing them of living on their land
illegally.

Buon Narith, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said the provincial court carried out the verdict and allowed the local authorities to destroy the villagers’ homes. “Some villagers got compensation and some did not accept it because it was a miserable amount of compensation,” Narith said.

Commune chief Chhit Sophat dismissed the complaint yesterday, saying the villagers had been illegally occupying land at the time of the eviction and insisted there had been no wrongdoing in the sale or compensation agreements.

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