Years of fighting for their land came to an end for 17 families at Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak community yesterday when City Hall delivered them long-awaited land titles.
The handover was part of a vow to resolve the capital’s main land disputes made by Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong when he assumed office last May, and came after officials measured land for 32 families in November.
One of those who received titles yesterday was Soung Samai, a widow in her fifties who has lived at Boeung Kak, in Village 22, since 1993.
While protesting in 2012, Samai was arrested with a number of other women who soon became known as the Boeung Kak 13.
In a high-profile trial, the women were sentenced to two and a half years in prison after a trial that lasted for just three hours.
They were released on appeal after more than one month in Prey Sar prison.
Yesterday, Samai said she felt a mix of delight at receiving a land title and disappointment at being given a parcel of land that was 25 square metres smaller than she had previously owned.
“However, this land certificate is protection for my children,” she said. “They can live safely in the future – it is a shield to prevent possible problems in the future.”
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the 17 titles were the second batch given out since the 32 plots were measured. About 50 more parcels at Boeung Kak are left to be marked out, he said.
“The next step is measuring the land for remaining families and giving them land certificates,” he said.
Long Nhean, from Boeung Kak’s Village 24, said he received a land title yesterday but would continue protesting until all in his community had been given what they were owed.
“For solidarity, I will keep supporting peaceful protests until our community gets a complete solution,” he said.
In 2007, the government awarded a 99-year, $79 million contract to Shukaku – a company headed by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin – to develop Boeung Kak lake.