Aggrieved Villagers Come to Phnom Penh for Protest

About 100 residents of Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district gathered at Phnom Penh’s restive Samakki Raingsey pagoda on Wednesday ahead of a planned march calling for justice in their long-running land dispute.

Phan Thoeun, a representative of the aggrieved villagers, said they would press Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Interior Ministry to return farmland they claim was illegally grabbed.

The group has repeatedly petitioned the government over the years, but Mr. Thoeun said he believed the premier never received their complaint “because the lower officials did not send the documents to him.”

Kan Lim, a former chief of Svay Chrum village in Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune, said the dispute began in late 2010, when CPP lawmaker Sous Yara demanded 500 square meters of land from the villagers.

When the group refused, Mr. Yara and provincial authorities claimed they were illegally squatting within the bounds of the Unesco World Heritage Site surrounding Preah Vihear temple.

Khuong Sreng, a deputy governor of Phnom Penh, said authorities would block the march for fear of traffic jams, but promised to pass along their petition.

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