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Villagers protest at PM Cabinet, want return of allocated land

Villagers protest at PM Cabinet, want return of allocated land

More than 100 people representing more than 330 families from seven villages in the districts of Kampong Svay and Stoung, in Kampong Thom province, on Thursday protested before Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet.

The protesters are seeking a resolution for land allocated to them by the prime minister which is later alleged to have been grabbed by provincial officials.

The protesters accused the authorities of conspiring to encroach on the land, taking ownership illegally and renting land they did not own.

Nuon Chan, a representative of the families, told The Post on Thursday that people had come to ask for Hun Sen’s intervention in a dispute over 1,600ha in Kampong Svay district’s Phat Sanday commune, as they claimed Hun Sen had already allocated it to the people.

He claimed that after the land was allocated to the commune, district and provincial authorities who were handed the land to complete the allocation did not distribute it but took it for themselves.

Chan said: “The authorities distributed the land to their families, accomplices, officials and some brokers. No land was given to the people of the commune.

“We went to the provincial hall five times to protest at the injustice and called on the deputy provincial governor to resolve it, but there has been no result. That is why we have come to ask the prime minister to intervene.”

In January, Chan said, representatives of the families lodged a complaint to Hun Sen’s Cabinet, but no solution was forthcoming. Therefore, they felt they had no other choice than to stage a protest.

The people’s complaint dated November 22, last year, noted that Kampong Svay district governor Un Bot, Phat Sanday commune chief Heng Mono, provincial fisheries director Horm Hon, provincial agriculture department director Pen Vannrith, and district fisheries secretary Van Sorphea had conspired to take the approximately 1,600ha of dry season farmland for their own. Some of the land was subsequently sold or leased to others.

The complaint noted: “A large part of the land that the commune relies on for its livelihood, which Samdech Hun Sen promised to distribute among the communities, has still not been handed over by authorities after four years.

“We were promised around 5ha each, but they have taken it for themselves.”

Bot told The Post on Thursday that the allegations were untrue. He said he does not have the ability to take the land since it was completely divided in 2014, two years before he became district governor.

“I took office as the district governor after the land was distributed. How can they accuse me of taking the land?

“I don’t even have the smallest piece of the land. I already reported the case to the provincial governor. He did all the research. The people are falsely accusing me,” he said.

Provincial hall spokesman Yov Sengkun told The Post on Thursday that after receiving information about the protest, the provincial administration would hold a meeting on Friday to resolve the case. He invited all parties involved in the dispute to join the meeting.

“Let’s see what the outcome is,” he said.

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