About 200 villagers locked in a land dispute with a Vietnamese-owned rubber firm in Kratie province were on Monday prevented from marching through Phnom Penh to deliver a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The farmers, whose homes in Snuol district were burned by authorities earlier this month, have been staying in Samakki Raingsey pagoda in Stung Meanchey commune on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
When they attempted to leave the pagoda, they were met by about 40 riot police, 20 district security guards and Meanchey district deputy governor Heak Chanleang.
“As our country has many traffic jams and disruptions to public order, we can not allow these people to march,” Mr. Chanleang said, adding that he would personally take the petition, which contains the evicted families’ seven demands, to Mr. Hun Sen.
“When I get information, I will reply to you,” he said. One of the seven demands is that the farmers are given their land back.
Nguon Vibol, a representative of the villagers, said that if the demands are not met, the villagers will march to Mr. Hun Sen’s house regardless of any police presence.
“They destroyed our homes and crops,” Mr. Vibol said. “We give them five days, and if there is no response, we will march to the prime minister’s house.”