More than 200 people protested in central Phnom Penh on Monday, claiming a military general kicked them off their land in Kompong Speu province.
“We are demanding the new government help us because we have been living on that land for a long time—since 1994,” said Say Saroeun, a local resident and member of the militia.
The protesters said they have occupied land in Phnom Sruoch district in Kompong Speu and cleared it of mines for farming. Most of the residents of the village are former soldiers, they said.
On Nov 12, General Chum Tong Heng, the commander of rural development in the Ministry of Defense, signed an order telling 1,000 families to move off the property. The document said the families have until Wednesday to move to new land 8 km away.
Another order telling the villagers to move came again on Dec 11, the protesters said.
On Monday, the demonstrators attempted to present documents stating they refused to move. The new land has no route to their children’s schools and medical facilities, and is ridden with malaria and mines, the demonstrators said.
Chum Tong Heng could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The villagers said they traveled the nearly 100 km to plead their case to their elected representatives and other parliamentarians in the National Assembly.
The group then went on to the Council of Ministers before dispersing.