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Villagers near Preah Vihear protest

Villagers near Preah Vihear protest

NEAR the disputed Preah Vihear temple complex, 20 people who said they were residents of Ko Muoy village protested their eviction, demanding more compensation and greater government transparency, local villagers said.

But at a press conference on Wednesday, officials at the Council of Ministers said that many of the angry villagers were not actually residents of Ko Muoy, a village that was largely destroyed by Thai rocket fire in April.

"The real problem was caused by those who are not really villagers who live near Preah Vihear temple," said Sous Yara, an undersecretary at the Council of Ministers, adding: "The government won't provide land to those kinds of villagers."

Ros Heng, the deputy governor of Preah Vihear's Chom Ksan district, said the land is controlled by the Preah Vihear Temple Authority and will become a "nature area".

Kong Sorphon, the director of Preah Vihear provinces's Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said the 473 families being moved to Sa Em will receive ample compensation in the form of 2 million riels (US$482), a plot of land 50 metres  by 100 metres and a new house.

But a police officer from Ko Muoy who says he is being detained at a provincial police station with a colleague for inciting the protests, disagrees. "We actually do not want to leave this place because this place helps make our lives better."

On Monday, more than 100 villagers came to Phnom Penh and delivered a complaint with 209 thumbprints to Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cabinet of Ministers, the National Assembly and the Senate.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHRANN CHAMROEUN

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