Families Appeal to Hun Sen Over Land Titles

Dozens of protesters gathered on Russian Boulevard again Tuesday, donning CPP hats and waving photos of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, in the hopes of attracting the leader’s attention as he drove past en route from Kampot province.

The 57 families of Srah Chak commune were pushed back by district police officers and security guards as they called for Mr. Hun Sen to intervene in an eight-year quest to receive titles to the valuable land they say they have occupied for decades.

Protesting residents living along Russian Boulevard try to attract Prime Minister Hun Sen's attention as he drove past Tuesday morning. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Protesting residents living along Russian Boulevard try to attract Prime Minister Hun Sen’s attention as he drove past Tuesday morning. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

District officials arrived to urge the group to disband and instead attend a meeting at the district office, but the protesters refused and instead tried to block the road as the prime minister approached about an hour later. They were subdued and pressed back by dozens of security guards.

“When the cars arrived in front of our houses, dozens of security guards tried to prevent and push us away and back onto the sidewalk so that Samdech Hun Sen would not see our banners. Silencing us like this is a horrible thing to do,” said Sem Valeak, 58. She said, however, that residents were still optimistic that the prime minister would help them.

“We hope that Samdech Hun Sen will see our protests and intervene with City Hall and provide land titles to us,” she said.

Holding a microphone and wearing a CPP T-shirt, protester Uch Somaly, 53, sobbed as she spoke.

“We don’t want to protest, but we need the land titles because we are afraid that in the future someone will grab our land like in the Boeng Kak and Borei Keila communities,” she said.

All of the villagers said they would continue to protest until they won the titles.

Kim Vutha, Daun Penh district security chief, confirmed the group was pushed back.

He said district officials have held two meetings between representatives of the villagers and authorities since the beginning of 2014 but, thus far, to no avail.

“From January until the end of May 2014 we have held meetings at the district office about the villagers’ request and have reported this to City Hall, but City Hall has not given them a reply yet,” Mr. Vutha said.

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