Angry Villagers Decry Proposed Christian Church

More than 200 angry villagers in Kom­pong Chhnang province on Sun­day protested to their commune chief over plans to build a Pro­testant church on a mountain in Rolea Ba’ier district, officials said.

In response, Sre Thmei Com­mune Chief Im Savuon ordered the construction of the church to be postponed, Nou Kheang, first de­puty commune chief, said Mon­day.

“They do not want a Christian church on the mountain,” Nou Khe­ang said, adding that the villagers also accused the commune chief of selling the mountain.

Villagers partly objected to the church because it would overlook a nearby Buddhist temple, Nou Khe­ang said.

The protest occurred after Sre Thmei commune council and the chief of Trok village signed an ag­reement to let a Christian woman, Ch­hun Sok Heng, build the church in return for $1,900 to pay for a local road and reservoir, he said.

The villagers gathered at a village meeting hall and demanded that the agreement be canceled and that the authorities return the money to Chhun Sok Heng.

Chhun Sok Heng said Monday that she had been planning to build the church on Trok mountain for years. Since 1996, she said, she has been meeting with other Chris­tians in the province at the proposed site to pray.

“I want to have a shelter for praying,” Chhun Sok Heng said. “I do not want a dispute.”

She said she had hoped to build the church on 200 square meters of land. But Chhun Sok Heng did not have permission to build the church from the provincial authorities, Nou Kheang said.

Men Bunthoeun, deputy provincial governor, said on Monday that he was unaware of the protest but that he would investigate the matter.



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