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Land’s ‘owner’ alleges violence

Land’s ‘owner’ alleges violence

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Touch Vanna, a former resident of the Boeung Chhouk community which was demolished in 2010, is seen at her former home before it was removed. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Six residents of the Boeung Chhouk community in the capital’s Russei Keo district have been summonsed to court to answer charges they used violence against the supposed owner of their land – a person they claim never to have met.

Khiev Chenda, 42, one of six who will appear in Phnom Penh municipal court today, said a police officer had delivered summonses to them in Kilometre 6 commune early this week, relating to their alleged treatment of a person named Tea Thoeun.

“This name I have never heard or been aware of before,” she said.

“I have never had a dispute or fought with others. I will appear at court and I believe the court will provide justice for us.”

According to the summonses, Tea Thoeun owns the one hectare of land on which about 200 people live in wooden homes.

Many residents claim they have rights to the land, having occupied it since 1991.

The police officer’s visit wasn’t the first authorities have made to Boeung Chhouk in recent years.

The Tuol Sangke commune authority issued a notice in March 2009 ordering 30 families to dismantle and remove their houses because they were on “state land”, an order the villagers refused.

In early 2010, district governor Khlaing Hout issued another notice, which claimed residents were living on land that belonged to Lao Tong Ngyg, whom villagers also claim never to have met.

This notice suggested they vacate “voluntarily” or face “administrative measures” if they didn’t.

About one hundred district and commune authority forces surrounded houses and removed six families from the site soon after.

Villager Chhim Sophon said he had lived at Boeung Chhouk for 20 years but had never met Lao Tong Ngy or Tea Thoeun.

“I don’t know what they want from innocent villagers in this area,” he said.

Sok Khim, Kilometre 6 commune chief, supported the residents, whom he said had lived there more than 20 years.

“I also don’t know Lao Tong Ngy or Tea Thoeun. Who are they? Why did not they complain when people settled here,” he said.

Lao Tong Ngy and Tea Thoeun could not be reached  for comment yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at [email protected]

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