Nabbed Land Grab Protester Returns Unhurt

A land grab protester thought to be abducted late Tuesday arrived back at his squatter camp safely later that night, relieving his comrades.

Sea Saron, who met with King Norodom Sihanouk earlier this month about land disputes, was led away by five men late Tuesday night, fellow squatters said. They thought he had been tricked or drugged.

But upon returning a couple of hours later, Sea Saron said he had gone with the men willingly to a compound nearby, where he was shown a map of the proposed area in Banteay Meanchey where some of the squatters would be resettled and be given some monetary compensation, according to Chan Soeun, another protester.

Scores of squatters from as many as half a dozen provinces are camping in the park across the National Assembly, awaiting resolutions to land disputes.

Sea Saron and his group returned to Banteay Meanchey Wednesday, believing their problems have been solved, Chan Soeun said. The men in the compound told him that each family would be given a small parcel of land and 10,000 Thai baht ($265)—a widely-used currency in the northern border province.

“We were totally confused about this case,” Chan Soeun said. “We just worried about ourselves because it looked strange for us that our team member went with somebody that we did not know.”

Chan Soeun said the men who led Sea Saron away were bodyguards who worked for a high-ranking CPP official, but that could not be confirmed.

The protesters had reason to be worried in any case, said Kek Galabru, founder of local human rights agency Licadho, who interviewed the squatters shortly after Tuesday night’s incident.

Those who should solve the problem should be the national land dispute committee or the Ministry of Interior, “not someone’s bodyguard,” she said.

 

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