The Muslim residents of Poipet town are seeking intervention from Prime Minister Hun Sen after a court ruled in November against returning a 160sqm plot they claim belongs to their mosque.
The calls come in response to a ruling by Banteay Meanchey provincial court in November, where Judge Ey Savinh declared Lim Sunly as the legal owner of the disputed land – a decision the Cambodian Muslims said they considered “unfair”.
On Thursday, mosque Imam Muth Sok Kry told The Post that on Wednesday afternoon a group went to Poipet town hall asking for official intervention in the land dispute. Town authorities rejected their appeals, saying it was for the court to decide the outcome of the case.
Sok Kry said they will now seek an intervention from Prime Minister Hun Sen to assist in the return of their land.
The group’s legal representative also filed a complaint to the Appeal Court in early December.
“The Cambodian Muslims in Poipet town cannot do anything besides insisting on intervention from involved authorities at all levels, especially [Prime Minister] Hun Sen, in order for justice to prevail and for the return of this piece of land for our mosque,” he said.
Poipet town mosque committee member Los Sovan said the plot of land is located on the campus of the mosque and houses the school in which students from 350 families are studying.
He said the mosque was renovated in 1993 on the 1,120sqm plot on which it currently sits – located in Poipet commune’s Paliley I village, Banteay Meanchey province.
Sovan said no person or authority had protested the renovation for 12 years.
But in July 2005, Phnom Penh resident Lim Sunly claimed ownership of the disputed 160sqm plot, saying it belonged to his uncle.
“After Lim Sunly began claiming our land, our Cambodian Muslim group filed the petition to ask the provincial court not to consider his claim. The ruling is very unfair for the Khmer Muslim community,” Sovan said.
Poipet town deputy governor Touch Mony said on Thursday that the authorities can do nothing about the decision and instructed the Poipet Muslims to wait for their hearing at the Appeal Court.
This is not the first land dispute involving a mosque in the Kingdom. In 2016, al-Serkal Mosque in Phnom Penh was at the centre of a storm after authorities wanted to build a road that would partially run through the mosque’s compound, much to the ire of its worshippers.