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Rights body calls for action on Koh Kong land clashes

Rights body calls for action on Koh Kong land clashes

HUMAN rights advocates are urging officials to arrest a man accused of beating two women involved in a heated land dispute with a private developer in Koh Kong province.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee criticised Koh Kong businessman Heng Huy after villagers in Sre Ambel district said two women were sent to hospital after being beaten by one of the businessman’s workers.

“Heng Huy’s action, which led his workers to clear disputed land and beat villagers, is a serious violation of human rights,” the statement said.

On Wednesday, villagers say, two women were beaten as they tried to stop workers from clearing their farmland. Heng Huy has rejected the allegation, and villagers say they have been unable to identify the assailant after he fled in a car. The CHRAC statement urged authorities to find the perpetrator.

The husband of one of the women yesterday said she was recovering in a Phnom Penh hospital.

“She still hurts inside her stomach,” said Hy Leang, who said his wife, 25-year-old Yi Kunthear, and her sister, 19-year-old Yi Kunthy were beaten. “The worker kicked her seriously.”

The villagers say they are on the verge of losing their land. The Supreme Court ruled last year that the roughly 100 hectares of land in Sre Ambel district belonged to Heng Huy and not to the 34 families, who say they have lived there since 1980.

“No one helps us, so I want the petition to reach Prime Minister Hun Sen and other authorities so they will look into our plights,” said villager Teng
Kao, who yesterday distributed petitions to motorists along National Road 48, in the hope of drawing public attention to the issue.

Koh Kong Governor Bun Leut urged villagers to reach a compromise with Heng Huy, noting that the court had ruled in the businessman’s favour.
“Heng Huy has already won the court case,” he said. “What we can do is ask Heng Huy and the villagers to talk about compensation.”

Heng Huy said yesterday that he would provide cash or a plot of land as compensation to the villagers affected.

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