Land Victims Blocked From Delivering Petition to National Assembly

At least 30 villagers from Oddar Meanchey province who say their land is being encroached upon were blocked by Daun Penh district authorities on Monday as they attempted to march to the National Assembly to deliver a petition asking for the premier’s intervention, they said.

A group of 122 families in Anlong Veng district’s eponymous commune claim that a Cambodian company, Kin Sokharith, has been clearing portions of their collective 400 hectares of land since February, according to village representative Sat Bora, 34. Local officials have done nothing to assist them in protecting their land, Mr. Bora said.

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The scene outside the National Assembly building in 2013. (Siv Channa)

“The local authorities accused us of being newcomers even though we have lived there since 2006,” he said.

The authorities have told the villagers to let the company proceed with its work, he said, adding that he did not know what that work was. “We came here to request that Samdech Hun Sen help.”

Mr. Bora said the group had been allowed to settle on the land in 2006 by provincial government officials.

Nguon Lin, chief of the district’s administration bureau, declined to comment on the situation. District governor Yoem Phanna, provincial governor Sar Thavy and his deputy Vat Paranin could not be reached for comment.

As the group of about 30 representatives from the commune marched from Chroy Changva’s Wat Chas pagoda at about 9 a.m. on Monday to deliver the petition, Daun Penh district security guards blocked them from reaching the National Assembly. The group instead delivered the request by tuk-tuk in the afternoon to the Assembly, Mr. Hun Sen’s cabinet and the land management and interior ministries.

“It’s a shame that we couldn’t walk to the National Assembly, but we still expect our petition will be handed to Samdech Hun Sen,” Mr. Bora said.

According to Daun Penh district security chief Kim Vutha, the group was stopped because infamous land protesters from Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak community had joined the march, spurring concerns from authorities about potential “shouting” and “traffic jams.”

“For those villagers from Oddar Meanchey, there was no problem, but there were four or five people from the Boeng Kak protests,” he said. “It would have caused public disorder.”

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