Villagers Protest Their Relocation From Pailin

Hundreds of Pailin residents ral­­lied earlier this week against au­thorities’ plans to force them from their village, officials confirmed Thurs­day. 

The protesters, who include monks and more than 600 families of Phsar Prum village, are outraged by plans to move them up the road from their village to what they say is heavily mined and thickly forested land.

The demonstrations, which be­gan Tuesday, are the first in the area against local authorities.

But municipal officials say the land currently used by the villag­ers rightfully belongs to Pailin and the property is crucial to the area’s development.

“We smoothed that land in 1993 for development, but in 1994 and 1995, the people came from dif­ferent areas to stay temporarily and they now live like it’s a squatter camp with lack of hygiene and filthy water,” Pailin Deputy Gov­er­nor Koeut Sothy said.

The residents knew they could only stay on the land temporarily, Koeut Sothy said.

But villagers claim Pailin Gov­er­nor Y Chhien, a former Khmer Rouge commander, has made pri­vate deals with US, French and Korean businessmen to develop their land. Pailin has been heavily logged and has a lucrative casino business.

Y Chhien refused to comment on the ongoing protests, but Koeut Sothy said the matter will be settled peacefully next week.

government will work out the villagers as quickly as possible.

“This problem will be solved peacefully next week after we hold a meeting with a mixed commission,” the deputy governor said.

 

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