Land Protests Are Plactated

Land-grab victims from the northwest border town of O’Smach agreed to end three weeks of protest outside the National Assembly, after government officials offered them state-owned property, compensation and building supplies, a government official said Tuesday.

The protesters say they were forced off their land after businessmen unveiled plans to build a casino, hotel and market. They said they had been intimidated and beaten in a grab engineered by local authorities and military.

Chum Kanal, an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said the families will receive government-owned plots of land 25 meters wide by 35 meters long located closer to O’Smach town. In addition, they will receive 10,000 Thai baht ($256) in compensation, and building materials, such as roofing.

‘‘Today there are no more protesters, they have gone back to O’Smach,’’ Chum Kanal said. ‘‘They have agreed with the solution.’’

However, he later acknowledged that a small group of about 20 refused the deal, and remain camped out in front of the National Assembly.

Chum Kanal, who heads a government land dispute committee, said he and other committee members will fly to O’Smach today to make sure local authorities comply with the deal.

The villagers comprised a large segment of the crowd camped out in front of the Na­tional Assembly in recent weeks. The crowd reached several hundred at one point.

Military Region 4 leaders had denied involvement in the evictions, but confirmed provincial officials had ordered the land cleared. The protests prompted Kem Sokha, chairman of the Senate Human Rights Commit­tee, to visit O’Smach to investigate their claims.

King Norodom Sihanouk, gave 20 kg of rice to each person as well as 40,000 riel to each adult and 10,000 riel for each child at the camp. The opposition party also weigh­ed in, holding a rally in to support those from O’Smach and other areas who have fallen victim to land grabbers.

 

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