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Land dispute villagers gather at PM’s office, seek intervention

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A group of 33 families gather in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office to ask for his intervention on their behalf in a land dispute. Hong Menea

Land dispute villagers gather at PM’s office, seek intervention

A group of village families gathered in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office on Monday to petition him to intervene on their behalf in a land dispute.

The 33 families claim to have resided on the land for 16 years until they were evicted.

The petition stated that in 2004, the authorities moved 339 families from Phnom Penh Thmey village, Phnom Penh Thmey commune, in Russey Keo district, to Chek Thmey village, Kouk Roka commune, Prek Pnov district.

It said Phnom Penh Municipal Hall tackled the issue for 237 families and promised to provide solutions for the remaining, but nothing happened.

“The land on which the families reside was granted by Phnom Penh Municipal Hall to the Svay Chek Thmey community on September 21, 2004,” the petition read.

Svay Chek Thmey community chief Khieu Phally told The Post on Monday that all 33 families have lived on the land for 16 years. He said now a man named Sok Heng claims to own it.

“We sent a petition to the Cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen because we have no solution. We are concerned that the court will seize our houses and send us to prison. We want the prime minister to find justice for us,” he said.

Phally said after sending the petition, district officials asked Phnom Penh Municipal Hall to look into the issue for the citizens.

“After sending the petition, Prek Pnov district officials delivered us to the district office. Officials said the land we are settled on belongs to the State and no one has a right to occupy it. They have to wait for an answer from the municipal hall,” he said.

Prek Pnov district governor Sok Sambath told The Post on Monday that this is an old issue. He then hung up the phone.

Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (Adhoc) spokesperson Soeung Sen Karuna said he didn’t know who is right. There was no complaint on file from the citizens.

“Normally, sending a petition to the government happens when citizens face injustice from officials or no one will handle their concerns.

“If they make a request to the national level, there should be a proper investigation of the issue. If possible, the State should consider allowing them to settle down there because they face a lot of hardship,” he said.

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