A Sam Rainsy Party senator on Sunday accused authorities in Preah Vihear province of grabbing land from two party members after they came to the capital for a demonstration. Authorities say the families were squatters evicted to make way for a prison.
The families of Huy Eng and Pen Kim Yi were evicted from the land June 27 by Thach Sokunthy, deputy director of the provincial prison, Meng Rita said.
Meng Rita said Thach Sokunthy told them “that because you have been openly supporting Sam Rainsy and attended the Congress of the Poor, no one can assure your safety.”
Thach Sokunthy, though, said the two families had been staying on the land with the permission of the former police chief, who had the right to take back the land if the prison was needed.
After returning from the June 18 “Congress of the Poor,” a Sam Rainsy-led demonstration, Huy Eng built a gate around the property to try to claim it permanently, Thach Sokunthy said.
Thach Sokunthy said he destroyed the houses on June 27 after giving the two families advance notice. Later that day, Huy Eng and his family returned in the afternoon and threatened police with axes and knives, he said. No one was injured.
Huy Eng still lives on the land, he said. “This is just a ploy by the party to accuse the authorities,” Thach Sokunthy said.
Preah Vihear Chief of Cabinet Song Bun Leang said the province now has funds to build a new prison. The current prison is dilapidated and plagued with frequent escapes, he said.