Three families involved in a land dispute with a private company filed a complaint Monday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court accusing the company’s owner, businessman Khun Sear, of waging an ongoing campaign of intimidation as he tries to force the families from their homes in Tuol Kok district.
On Wednesday, a bag of poisonous cobra snakes was thrown through the window of one of the families’ homes in Boeng Kak I commune. Ly Sreang Kheng, 58, his wife, Mok Siv Hong, 51, and their son, Ly Bun Heang, believe the snake attack was an attempt on their lives by employees of the Khun Sear Import Export Company because they have refused to accept $15,000 to leave their homes.
The incident prompted NGOs the Housing Rights Task Force and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee to release a joint statement condemning what was only the latest act of intimidation by the company that has seen their properties destroyed, their businesses attacked, their physical security violated and five of their pets killed.
Contact information for the company was not available.
At the court Monday, Ms. Siv Hong said that since the snake attack, the threats have continued unabated.
“On Saturday, when I was getting ready to sleep I heard a group of men outside loudly saying that next they were going to throw a grenade into our house. We are living in fear that any day we may be killed, so we have come to plead with the authorities to help us,” she said.
Their complaint documents the list of alleged offenses and gives the nicknames of two men the families say are employed by Mr. Sear’s company and are behind the attacks—Sambath and Atreng.
“We ask the court to send an official letter to Khun Sear to end the abuse of the three families; to carry out an investigation to find the perpetrators of the attacks and punish them according to the law; and to pay $1,000 to [each family] to compensate for their treatment,” the complaint states.
Also outside the court Monday, Ly Siv Ming—whose 70-year-old father, Ly Seang Heng, has reported a litany of incidents perpetrated against him including being struck on the head by a metal object in July—said that her family and her neighbors simply want justice.
“We want the court to find justice to protect us from the company, but we have filed many complaints so I do not have much hope,” she said.
Prak Savouth, chief municipal court clerk, confirmed that the court had accepted the complaint and said it would be reviewed by prosecutors next week.
“We received the complaint and it will be dealt with according to the proper court procedure,” he said.