Protesters Demand Action on Land Dispute

More than 100 people protested in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house Thursday, demanding that the premier intervene in a Phnom Penh land dispute.

The protesters, who represented 145 families from Toul Trach village, Chaom Chau commune, Dangkao district, wanted the prime minister to return 10.5 hectares of land in Prey Tea village which were allegedly taken and sold by soldiers.

More than 20 police officers chased the protesters from the house. The protesters moved but continued to demonstrate on Norodom Boulevard.

“I have taken legal action [in this case] for two years, but no one has solved this problem,” said one demonstrator who de­clined to be identified.

The protester said that in 1987, a powerful soldier named Sok Pang threatened villagers, telling them that if they didn’t hand over the land, the military would allow Pol Pot to kill the people if he re­turned. She accused Sok Pang of selling the land to 37 families. Sok Pang could not be reached for comment.

Dangkao Deputy Governor Men Mon said soldiers had div­ided the land up and given it to 37 families. The original purchasers have since left, and new ten­ants live on the disputed plots, Men Mon said. “I want the villagers to return to their homes, and we will solve this problem ac­cording to the law,” Men Mon said.

Tong Bunka, a solider living on the land, said it belonged to the Ministry of Defense, not the families. He could not provide any legal titles showing that the military owned the land.

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