Evicted O Meanchey Families Given Food, Tents by Licadho

Food and other supplies were donated by local rights group Li­cadho yesterday to families evicted in Oddar Meanchey province’s Sam­raong town, where at least 50 houses in O’Bat Mon village were re­­portedly burned by security forces.

Police, RCAF troops and military police officers forcibly evicted 214 families from the Konkriel commune village on Oct 9, and villagers said yesterday they plan to plead their case this week to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the National Assembly.

Chheng Sophors, an investigator for the rights group Licadho, said his organization donated 400 kg of uncooked rice, 40 tents, cans of fish, and dry noodles for about 40 families still in Konkriel commune, though many more families are scat­­tered and remain in need.

“If there are more families who appear, we will buy more rice and everything for them,” he said.

The eviction was related to a dispute between villagers and the Angkor Sugar Company, a firm owned by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat that received an economic land concession in the area in 2007. Three villagers involved in the dispute were arrested last week in res­ponse to a lawsuit filed by Forestry Administration officials accusing villagers of land grabbing and clearing state forestland.

Licadho attorney Ly Socheata added that he filed paperwork yesterday with the Siem Reap court seeking the release of one of the arrested men, Ma Ouk Chhoeurn, 45. He added that he will soon file requests for the release of the other men—Long Sarith, 24, and Long Chamkir.

“I am trying to get the three men released on bail first,” he said.

With such loss of property in O’Bat Mon, few villagers were able to travel to Phnom Penh this week to seek assistance from the central government over the eviction and the arrest of the men, said villager representative Huoy Chhuoy.

“Only 27 of us can travel to Phnom Penh to seek help from upper levels to intervene for the release of the three men being detained in Siem Reap provincial prison,” Mr Chuoy said.

The group is still completing paperwork and will file complaints this week with the National As­sembly and Mr Hun Sen, he said.



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