About 30 villagers in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district staged a protest Tuesday morning against tycoon Sok Kong, whom they accuse of piping dredged sand into their farmland and fishing ponds.
Fourteen families occupying 21 hectares of land in Prek Pra commune have been locked in a land dispute for years with Sok Kong Import Export Co., which they say illegally obtained the title to land they have occupied for more than a decade.
At the protest, villagers burned car tires and shouted accusations at the company, which has announced plans to embark upon a large-scale development project complete with flats, villas and markets.
“We protest against the Sok Kong company, which secretly dumped dredged sand on our land because they want to occupy our land,” said Lorn Pisey, 33.
According to Ms. Pisey, she and the other 13 families bought about 21 hectares of land in the area from a landlord who had lived there since 1983. But in 2010, the government granted a title to the Sok Kong company that overlapped with their land.
“The company colluded with the authorities to make the land title cover our land, and then started to fill it with sand before the national election,” she said.
Complaints have been filed with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Land Management, but no resolution has been reached.
Some said they would be happy to leave if the tycoon offered appropriate compensation.
“We want the company to give us appropriate compensation, but if the company doesn’t solve it for us, we will continue to protest and we will sacrifice our lives to live on the land,” said Sun Sokunthy, 47.
“Please Samdech Hun Sen and Samdech Kittiprittbandit Bun Rany Hun Sen, help intervene in our problem.”
Neither Sok Kong nor representatives of his company could be reached Tuesday, but Meanchey district governor Kuoch Chamroeun called the villagers’ claims unfounded.
“According to the documents, that land belongs to the [Sok Kong] company because they have the land title,” he said.