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Villagers block national road

Villagers block national road

Nearly 100 residents from about 50 families in Sihan-oukville town’s commune 1 blocked National Road 4 yesterday to protest aganist a Supreme Court verdict ordering their eviction on Friday in fav-our of a local official.

Resident Min Ya, 40, said yesterday that demonstrators were protesting against  the court’s verdict in favour of Chan Kang, director of the petrol management office at Sihanoukville Port, following a 10-year dispute over 5.3 hectares of land.

“We request that authorities and the court help us. I have lived here for nearly 10 years,” she said. “The residents did not want to block the national road. It is breaking the law, but we need our homes.”

Another resident, 37-year-old Houn Chan Dara, said local authorities had refused to award residents land titles.

“We have lived here for a long time. The court ordered us to move on November 4 and, if not, the authorities will demolish our houses,” he said.

“Mr Chan Kang wants to sell our land.”

Chan Kang claimed yesterday he had had legal rights to the land since 1993, but that the provincial court and Appeal Court had initially ruled against him.

“The residents built homes on my land illegally,” he said.

Bun Narith, provincial co-ordinator for rights group Lic-adho, said the protest was non-violent, but had caused a traffic jam. “[Residents] are afraid of losing their homes,” he said.

Provincial police chief Tak Vantha said he had been told to maintain public order, and that residents were still blocking the road.