More than 180 families that came to Phnom Penh to protest an alleged land grab in Battambang province agreed to go home Sunday after the provincial governor personally intervened.
Battambang Governor Nov Sam arrived in Phnom Penh Sunday morning to talk to the villagers of Bavel district and to assure them they would be safe if they went back home.
The 187 families arrived in Phnom Penh Saturday night to file complaints at the National Assembly, Ministry of Interior and other government agencies.
Villagers said 60 homes were burned down in March by military police and other authorities. They have not been able to get their land back since then.
“Don’t worry,” Nov Sam said. “Let’s go back to our province. We are going to solve this together. I will defend all of you.”
The villagers did not immediately agree to the governor’s proposal, demanding that he first ensure that military police do not retaliate against them for filing the complaints.
“If you are lying, we will come back here again,” said 76-year-old Thor Eng. “You have to make sure that we will be safe. We do not want to die.”
The families said they want five hectares of land apiece, but the governor declined to say whether he would agree.
Nov Sam said he would order the Bavel District governor, police and military officials to meet Tuesday on the problem.
The governor gave the families a total of $657 for food and provided three trucks for transportation for the ride home.