A group made up of more than 30 people from 13 families gathered in Meanrith commune, in Dang Tong district, Kampot province, on Sunday requesting the authorities to speed up the resolution of a chronic land dispute with former Dang Tong district deputy governor Prak Buoy.

Kang Ith, the representative of the 13 families said in a video from the disputed land on Sunday that the people have occupied the 40ha for nearly 30 years.

But Prak Buoy sued, demanding they leave the land they have lived on since 1993 claiming that he was in possession of the land title.

Ith said the dispute started in 2001 when the families tried to ask for intervention from various authorities. The case went to the Kampot provincial court and the residents lost.

He said the dispute was between two other families and Prak Buoy. The other families did not know about it, but they were accused of trespassing and living on stolen land, Ith said.

“Citizens were provided with a copy of a district registry letter about their occupation, but said they did not know that they occupied someone else’s land,” Ith said.

Still, the residents are pleading to stay.

A resident who did not give her name said in the video that her family had been living on the land for a long time and evicting them will make their lives more difficult.

“His Majesty, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Bun Rany [First Lady}, please help us to tackle this land dispute. If we are evicted from this place, we have no place to stay. I call for Prime Minister Hun Sen to help tackle this issue for us,” she said.

Meanrith commune chief Em Tam told The Post on Sunday that it is very difficult for the 13 families to lose the land which has been their shelter for a long time.

He said commune authorities tried to help the citizens but another party, who did not even know the specific land location, did not agree and filed a complaint with the court.

“This dispute has lasted a long time. There have been many district governors who could not solve this problem, but Buoy still does not agree and demands that citizens leave. If you make citizens leave, where will they live? They have only this land.

“Regardless of being a commune chief, I do not know any powerful people helping. I only know that if citizens lose, it seems really bad as they only have this land,” Tam said.

Kampot provincial administration director Veth Vathana said the matter has already gone beyond the provincial authorities.