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Villagers protest at eviction attempt

Villagers protest at eviction attempt

About 400 villagers in Kampong Cham province’s Stung Trang district began protesting yesterday after workers from a private company attempted to clear their houses with excavators, villagers said yesterday.

Residents told the Post that Long Sreng International Co. Ltd had not received a government concession to develop the land.

Villager Yorn Sophorn, 57, a representative of more than 400 affected families in Prek Kak commune’s Meak Bei village, said that company workers had attempted to clear their houses but stopped after villagers began protesting.

“I told them that I will burn down their excavator if they come to clear my home,” she said. “I will if they continue to come, but they dare not come.”

Yorn Sophorn said that the company had tried to force villagers to relocate, offering  10x20m plots of land and US$400 for families with small plots, and 20x30m plots and $800 for families with larger plots of land. She claimed that police had allowed the company to demolish villagers’ homes.

Another representative, Nem Yet, 61, said that the company wanted the land in order to construct a market and a school.

“I want to stay in my village,” he said, adding that today he would send a letter to rights group Adhoc seeking intervention in the dispute.

Deputy district police chief Chear Thearith said that his officials had protected the villagers’ safety during the protest.

“I did not threaten villagers or support the company, I just protect both parties,” he said.

A representative of Long Sreng International, who declined to be named, said yesterday that he was not aware of the protest.

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