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Protesters rally at ministry over Koh Kong land fracas

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Representatives of 375 families involved in land dispute were offered a solution by the Ministry of Land Management in March. Sreng Meng Srun

Protesters rally at ministry over Koh Kong land fracas

A host of protesters rallied at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction yesterday to demand that it intervene to resolve a land dispute involving a company and hundreds of families in Koh Kong province.

Pov Nget, one of the 70 protesters seeking the ministry’s mediation to resolve the dispute, said the 176 families he represents are demanding financial compensation from the company owned by tycoon Ly Yong Path.

“We come here to ask $6,000 as compensation for each family. Our group’s families have been given 1.5ha, but no money,” she said, noting the families from the other groups have received both.

The dispute involving a community of 200 families in Botum Sakor’s Kandorl commune began in 2003, and the one involving 175 families in Sre Ambel’s Chi Khor Leu commune began in 2005.

Earlier in March, the company agreed with the government to carve out 825ha of land from its economic land concession in Sre Ambel district’s Chikhor Loeu commune.

A total of 175 families agreed to accept 3ha and $2,500 each while 200 families accepted 1.5ha each, according to a ministry statement.

Another protester Tith Heang, after meeting with the ministry’s senior officials, said the ministry could not help further as the company has handed out compensations to the people and both parties have settled.

“We do not know where else to go because we do not think that the officials have helped us,” she complained, claiming the government does not care about the dispute “victims” and that they allow companies to freely grab the people’s land.

Ministry spokesman Seng Lot was unable to provide a comment. But other people who have met with the ministry officials claim it said it cannot intervene and told the protesters to go home.

A rights group provincial coordinator in Koh Kong said the other families received an appropriate amount of money and land as compensation through a mediated settlement agreed by all parties, but the last group of families received less and they did not receive money.

“Therefore, they decided to demand more [compensation]. The authorities should find the means to mediate with them”, he said.

As of press time, nobody from the company has provided any statement.

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