CNRP President Sam Rainsy on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife Bun Rany, who is president of the Cambodian Red Cross, asking her to provide humanitarian aid to about 200 farmers from Kratie province locked in a land dispute with a Vietnamese rubber company.
The farmers remained in a Phnom Penh pagoda Friday despite pressure from the municipality to vacate the premises and return to their home provinces.
In the event of the villagers being forced to leave Samakki Raingsey pagoda, Mr. Rainsy asked the CRC to “help provide materials for building shelters such as tents, mosquito nets, blankets, and mats as well as food for them to temporarily settle the issues until there is a resolution.”
He also requested that the villagers be given food and medicine while staying at the pagoda.
Sok Long, director of the health department at the Cambodian Red Cross, said he was not aware of the issue.
The families have been camped out in Phnom Penh for over a week as they conduct a campaign of protests and appeals to foreign embassies over their eviction at the hands of the rubber company, Binh Phuoc 2. On Wednesday, the villagers attempted to petition the Cambodian Red Cross for help, but were blocked by military police.
Local authorities in Kratie say the farmers are not legally entitled to the land they live on because they moved to the site from other provinces only in 2008, but the CNRP has thrown its support behind the farmers, calling them “internal refugees.”
The removal of the villagers from the pagoda was postponed yet again after they handed over a document to Kratie governor Khann Chamnan making seven demands, including the return of their land and assurances that they will be safe if they return to Kratie.
Deputy Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng once again urged the farmers to return to the provinces they were living in before moving to Kratie so authorities can assess the document.
“If these people hadn’t made the seven-point request we would have removed them, but now the provincial authorities can analyze these requests. City Hall will keep watching them and we won’t let them enter the city,” he said.
(Additional reporting by George Wright)