Disabled Veterans Protest, Saying That Promised Land Never Given

About 100 disabled war veterans protested outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence in Phnom Penh yesterday, demanding land promised to them by the government in 2008.

Yann Yoek, a representative of the veterans, said at yesterday’s protest that 620 families in Kratie province’s Snuol district had re­ceived written confirmation from both National Assembly Presi­dent Heng Samrin and Hun Sen’s cabinet that each family would be allocated 5 hectares of land. The pro­mise has not been kept, he said.

“The local authority has not been able to carry out the order,” Mr Yoek said. “I want the government to live up to its word.”

Phann Sophal, a former soldier who lost his left leg in 1986 during fighting against Khmer Rouge soldiers in Preah Vihear province, said that previous protests outside Snuol district’s Pi Thnou commune office had resulted in violent confrontations with the local police force.

“The authorities fought us; they were very brutal,” he said. “We just want justice because we are very poor.”

Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of Hun Sen’s cabinet, said he had received the complaint from the veterans yesterday and that it would take at least a month before any decision on the matter would be made.

He said that the land offered to the veterans was located in a protected forest area and that the Environment Ministry would have to evaluate the plan before any resolution could be made.

“I am not sure what the decision is regarding this case yet,” Mr Leang Se said.

Kratie provincial governor Kham Phoeun said he needed to conduct further studies on which part of the land promised to the veterans falls inside protected areas.

“We need to look at the land to see if it can be distributed, because much of the area is protected forest,” he said.

Environment Ministry spokes­man Sem Saroeun said he was unaware of the case.



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