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Protesters stymied in march to PM’s house

Protesters stymied in march to PM’s house

Police blocked more than 100 protesters from Preah Vihear’s Svay Chrum village from approaching the prime minister’s home yesterday in Phnom Penh, in an attempt to submit a letter asking the premier to resolve their recent land eviction.

This is the third time in nearly three weeks the protesters have gathered in Phnom Penh after the National Authority of Preah Vihear began destroying their homes in the Choam Ksan district to create space for government offices, in late December.

The residents were forced to move to a nearby village, which they said lacks basic amenities and infastructure.

Svay Chrum village representative Sao Yat said that more than 20 police officers, some armed, prevented the group of protesters from accessing the premier’s house in order to deliver their letter.

“We tried to break through ... but we could not because our villagers are weak and some them are women. The police pushed us back,” he said.

The protesters instead gathered under several banners of Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany at the Wat Botum pagoda, under the watchful eye of about 30 police officers.

Kong Cham Roeun, a member of the prime minister’s cabinet, came out to accept the letter yesterday from the protesters and said that the deputy governor of Preah Vihear intended to visit the villagers that afternoon in Phnom Penh.

However, the protesters claimed later that the deputy governor would not meet with them until Tuesday morning, in an attempt to resolve their housing situation and persuade them to return to Preah Vihear.

A 67-year-old protester, who wished to remain anonymous, said that all the villagers wanted was an intervention from the prime minister and his wife because the villagers did not trust the Preah Vihear authorities.

“Please Samdech Hun Sen, intervene and help us. Any word or decision from Samdech Hun Sen we would accept,” she said.

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