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Lakeside villagers speak out

Lakeside villagers speak out

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Tep Vanny, a representative for Boeung Kak lake residents, addresses a crowd yesterday at the home of another community leader.

Boeung Kak lake residents spoke out against government officials who accused them of living on state land illegally, during a press conference yesterday in Daun Penh’s Srah Chak commune.

“If they accuse us of being thieves, what are government officials and local authorities who issued legal letters to us?” Ly Mom, a representative for Boeung Kak residents, said yesterday during a press conference in Village 24 of Srah Chak commune.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the local NGO Housing Rights Task Force, said yesterday that if government officials accused residents of being thieves who stole state land as they have alleged, “this language is shameful and they are not suited to be leaders … and this is not a resolution”.

Nun Pheany, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said yesterday that she had not personally stated that Boeung Kak residents were living illegally on the disputed land.

Nun Pheany and Sar Sovann, director of the Land Management and Administration Project, were accused of alleging villagers were living on stolen land by representatives at the press conference.

She added that the development of the Boeung Kak area is within the framework of the LMAP and that the World Bank’s recent criticism of the project incorrectly connected it to land disputes with Boeung Kak villagers.

“LMAP is not relevant to the villagers of Boeung Kak area because we took it out of the project because it was a disputed area,” she said, adding that the dispute arose after officials from Phnom Penh Municipal Hall and Daun Penh district accused the villagers of living on the land illegally.

“However, so far we haven’t registered land for any parties until the dispute is successfully resolved.”

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