Representatives of 29 families involved in a land dispute with the Defense Ministry in Phnom Penh visited the National Assembly on Thursday, seeking a response to a petition they submitted last month asking for intervention.
The dispute between 48 families of soldiers and veterans and the Defense Ministry began early this year after the ministry sold a warehouse in Sen Sok district along with a 4-hectare plot the families have lived on since the 1980s to a Chinese company, the representatives said.
So far, 19 families have accepted compensation from the ministry, amounting to $2,000 and a house each in Kompong Speu province’s Odong district, said Nheuk Hum, 67, one of the representatives.
Mr. Hum, who says he has lived on the land since 1980, when he ran the warehouse, said the 19 families were not satisfied with the compensation, but as employees of the ministry they felt obligated to accept it.
“They are employees and they had no choice because their boss put pressure on them,” he said.
He said that the other 29 families are demanding $30,000 each in compensation.
Im Sophan, 40, another representative, said they submitted the petition to the National Assembly about a month ago and returned Thursday to check on its status.
She said that an administrative official who did not provide his name gave the petitioners a copy of a letter from the National Assembly’s human rights commission to Defense Minister Tea Banh about the dispute.
The letter—signed by the commission’s chair, CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang on April 8, and National Assembly President Heng Samrin on April 20—asks the defense minister to resolve the dispute.
According to the letter, the human rights commission visited the disputed site in March to investigate the case.
Contacted Thursday, Mr. Chhay Eang confirmed that he sent the letter to General Banh earlier this week and said he believed the families were entitled to more compensation.
“The Ministry of Defense should provide a solution for the families because they have lived there a long time,” he said.
Gen. Banh said, however, that he was unaware of the dispute.
“I have not yet received a letter from the National Assembly, and I don’t know [whether] the land dispute happened…but I think that this information is not true.”