Families in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district have been protesting since Friday against wealthy businessman Khun Sear’s plan to build a brick wall that will effectively block access to their village.
Local resident You Sokhou said the families started protesting and burning tires on Friday after they saw Mr. Sear’s employees bringing in equipment to build a wall cutting off access to the road leading to their village in Chak Angre Loeu commune. He said the employees started building the wall on Saturday night.
Mr. Sokhou said one of the protesters was also attacked by a group of three men on Saturday night, leaving the victim with a bloody head wound, but could not identify the assailants.
“We protested at the disputed site for two days but failed to solve the problem, so today we decided to protest at the district office to demand intervention,” he said.
He said the wall would affect some 500 families and that about 50 villagers joined Monday’s protest, with members of the group eventually meeting a representative of Mr. Sear’s firm.
District deputy governor Hiek Chanleang said Mr. Sear owned the land on which the road sits, and that a representative for the businessman who joined Monday’s meeting refused the villagers’ request to tear the new wall down.
“It is very difficult to respond to the villagers’ demand because the company has a title to the land,” he said.
“However, we will send a report about the dispute to the municipal government soon.”
Last year, a group of more than 170 families in the same commune filed a collective complaint with the district government over another portion of a wall Mr. Sear was building down the middle of their own road. Residents there say that dispute also remains unresolved.
Mr. Sear could not be reached for comment.