Russei Keo Families Protest, Fearing Eviction From Homes

About 25 residents of Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district pro­tested outside district offices yesterday after receiving a notice that ordered 65 families in a development area in Tuol Sangke commune to bring documents proving land ownership to commune offices for verification.

The notice, dated June 28 and issued by district governor Khla­ing Huot, claimed that it had in­formed the 65 families from Tuol Sangke that they must have their ownership documents verified by Friday, or else authorities would not work to resolve a long-running land dispute.

Chhoem Sophun, 50, a resident representative, said that even though the notice did not threaten eviction, district authorities had been trying to evict them for years.

“Villagers are very worried about evictions, because district and commune authorities are de­ceiving villagers and are colluding to sell this plot of land” to a businessman, he said.

He said the families did not have land deeds but had ample proof that they have lived there for more than a decade, enough to prove domicile under the 2001 land law.

“We have enough documents to prove long ownership of the land, including official family books, utility bills and election re­gistration cards, but authorities are refusing to resolve the problem for the villagers,” he said, adding that he and 35 families he represents actually live in Kilo­metr Pram Muoy commune and not in Tuol Sangke commune.

Kilometr Pram Muoy commune chief Sok Khim said yesterday that district authorities banned his commune authorities from seeking resolution in the case last year.

“We don’t know the reason why district authorities and the governor do not allow commune authorities to be in charge of the case, but we have no right to challenge them,” he said.

Tuol Sangke commune chief Soy Kosal denied that authorities had been trying to sell the land.


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