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Koh Kong protesters’ ministry visit blocked

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Protesters from Koh Kong walk along a road after being prevented from reaching the Land Management Ministry on Monday. Licadho

Koh Kong protesters’ ministry visit blocked

Authorities on Monday stopped 10 truckloads of Koh Kong province residents from driving to the Ministry of Land Management by blocking the road to Phnom Penh, representatives of the group claim.

Growing impatient with the slow resolution to their long-running land dispute, the protesters, representing some 500 families, once again attempted to appeal to the Ministry of Land Management to resolve the matter.

Choem Sreythuon, a representative for the protesters from Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel district, said she had rented 10 trucks to ferry 300 people to the ministry.

“But 10 military policemen, accompanied by Suon Sitha, the deputy governor of Sre Ambel district, stopped our convoy and ordered us not to travel to Phnom Penh,” she said.

The protesters, she said, only wanted to urge the Land Ministry to act quickly on their dispute after Koh Kong provincial authorities had not been in contact since collecting information from the families.

She accused the provincial authorities of not sending the information they had collected to the ministry.

“We asked the Koh Kong provincial authorities for an update, but they have not responded, so we decided to go to the Ministry of Land Management once again so that we can receive an official response to our requests,” Sreythuon said.

A protestor, Iem Phon, 50, said the land dispute had been ongoing for over 10 years and affects 537 families in nine villages involving four communes, but 300 families have not received any resolution, he claimed. Phon expressed frustration with the situation and appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen for assistance.

“I am disappointed that the provincial authorities don’t seem bothered to resolve our dispute. They do not mind the people walking hundreds of kilometres to the Ministry of Land Mangement. Samdech [Hun Sen] please help to end this dispute.”

Seng Lot, a spokesman at the Ministry of Land Management, and Tep Thorn, its undersecretary could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Phouthong Mithona, Koh Kong provincial governor, also could not be reached for comment, but last month, she said she was seeking a solution by early June.

“In line with the ministry’s recommendation, the Koh Kong provincial administration has created a joint committee for an end to the land dispute by early June this year,” she said.

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