Land-Grab Protesters Rally by Hun Sen’s Home Over Land

Representatives of more than 100 alleged victims of land-grabbing demonstrated in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh house Wednesday morning demanding a resolution to what they say is an unjust ousting.

Civil servants representing 120 families from Phnom Penh’s Chrang Chamreh I commune, Russei Keo district, congregated near the Independence Monu­ment to demand the return of a

60-hectare plot of land, demonstrator Kong Ravin said. The group claims they rightfully occupied the land until July 2002, when a private citizen bulldozed the plot.

“Other civil servants and I have…protected the land since 1979 but now [the land] is being robbed by a group of powerful people,” Kong Ravin said.

Commune Vice Chief Huy Mora said he didn’t issue the group a permit for the land and was confident that his predecessor, Prak Sophon, did not offer them one either.

But Prak Sophon allowed the families to clear trees to live on the forested land, albeit unofficially, Huy Mora said. The families were pushed from the land when Dy Por, a resident of Russei Keo’s Svay Pak commune, used a bulldozer to smooth the land the families had cleared, he said.

Another demonstrator said the group has documents and a copy of the land title to prove the families are the land’s rightful owners.

Huy Mora asked that the families and Dy Por cease their fighting because the plot in question is state-owned.

Dy Por was not available for comment Wednesday.

In the first six months of 2002, 63 land-grabbing cases, involving 2,746 families, were investigated by the human rights group Adhoc. A quarter of the complaints waged were against district officials, while 13 percent were against commune officials, according to Adhoc’s October 2002 semi-annual report.

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