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Villagers protest at Hun Sen’s residences

Villagers protest at Hun Sen’s residences

A GROUP of 100 villagers from Kampong Cham province returned to their homes on Monday after staging eviction protests at the Phnom Penh and Takhmao residences of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The protesters agreed to return home after Lim Metta, Hun Sen’s Takhmao cabinet officer, received their petition.

Kau Ith, 46, a representative of the protesters from Memot district’s Khnong Krapue Khangkieth village, said that just before the Water Festival, district authorities told residents of plans to relocate them to a neighbouring village.

“We agreed all together that we would not move from our current village,” he said.

Vinh Ny, chief of Tramuong commune, said the village had been workers’ housing on a French-era rubber plantation.

After the Khmer Rouge regime fell, the government allowed people to settle there, but the recently privatised rubber company that owns the land is now demanding that the houses be used for its workers, Vinh Ny said.

“In exchange for relocating, the company said they would provide each family with a new 4-by-10-metre home on a 20-by-30-metre plot of land,” he said.

Choek Ta-On, governor of Memot district, said the villagers should take the offer.

“These villagers will not have a homeland as long as they stay on company property. But if they relocate, they will receive property that they own themselves,” he said.

Choek Ta-On said the company was working with local authorities to resolve the problem. A joint committee is expected to present the company’s offer to an initial set of 20 families on Thursday.