Villager Who Attempted Suicide Has Little Hope in Land Dispute

Mom Sovann, 66, was at his bam­boo house in Kandal province as usual on Monday and his wife Tim Sok, 63, was busy as usual col­lect­ing mint from her pond using a small boat.

On Friday, security guards outside the National Assembly stop­ped Mom Sovann’s attempt to burn himself to death using gasoline and a lighter to protest encroachment on his land.

The small pond, originally 70 me­ters by 35 meters, where the couple have lived in Takhmau district’s Do­eum Mean commune for 27 years, is slowly disappearing as more and more people are filling the lake to build houses, the couple said.

At his attempted suicide, Mom So­vann wore a T-shirt with a message begging Prime Minister Hun Sen and CPP leaders Chea Sim and Heng Samrin for help after years of fruitless battles to save his prop­erty. “We lost two of our sons who fought for the State of Cam­bodia,” Tim Sok said on Monday.

“The authorities should be grateful to my family that our sons died for the nation. Why won’t they help solve our problem?” she asked.

Neighbors started trespassing on their land in 2001, they said. At first, six families on the eastern side filled in plots in the pond and built houses and seven did so on the west­ern side. Now they aren’t clear how many builders have designs on the pond.

Hing Soeun, Doeum Mean commune chief, said the couple’s case has been with the court for years.

“His case is a headache and his land has no title and it is very hard to say who is right, who is wrong,” Hing Soeun said. “If he wants to kill himself over his land dispute, it’s his case,” he added. With little support from local au­thorities, Mom Sovann said only the CPP’s three top leaders can help now.

“But if my case isn’t solved, I will kill myself,” he warned.


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