Protesting Evictees Block Highway in Sihanoukville

Traffic came to a standstill on National Road 4 in Sihanoukville on Wednesday morning when dozens of people lined up across the highway to protest their eviction from a plot of state land earlier in the day, officials said on Thursday.

“They blocked the road for one or two hours,” said Tai Reaksmey, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho.

About 50 protesters had been living on state land near the Kbal Chhay dam for about a year, Mr. Reaksmey said.

When authorities forced them to leave, they became desperate. “They are extremely poor people from around the province and they have no land,” he said.

Deputy Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Phay Bunnak said he led about 40 police and military police officers to the site in the morning and removed 10 crude shelters the families had built on the land.

“We removed the shelters because the people had built anarchically on state land,” he said.

Mr. Bunnak said the evictees abandoned their highway protest only after his officials promised to find them another piece of land to live on.

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