Villagers Seek PM’s Help in Alleged Evictions

More than 200 villagers from Kampot province arrived at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Takhmau town to demand that authorities stop evicting them from their homes, rights workers and a villager said Thursday.

Licadho monitor Am Sam Ath said about 80 villagers from Chey Sezna village, near the border between Kampot and Kompong Speu provinces, first arrived at Prek Samroung pagoda near the prime minister’s house Wednes­day evening, with more arriving Thursday.

About 200 villagers, including 20 children, were staying at the pagoda Thursday, according to villager Sok Oeut, 46.

“We are here to ask for help from Samdech Hun Sen,” she said. “We dare to die for our land; we won’t move to other land.”

The protesters plan to hold a demonstration today, she added.

“We don’t want new land, we just need our old land, which we already cultivated,” Sok Oeut said.

Chey Sezna village was sealed off June 22 by RCAF’s Brigade 31 when conflict broke out as residents resisted being evicted, re­portedly to make way for a tree nursery. Sok Oeut said the village was still occupied by soldiers.

Am Sam Ath said Licadho was buying food supplies for the villagers and was ready to assist them in the legal process.

According Am Sam Ath, who visited Chey Sezna village with UN representatives last Friday, more than 400 families had already been evicted. Only 300 families accepted the new land offered, where they were living under plastic tarpaulins and in makeshift cottages.

Other remaining families had left to stay with relatives or in pagodas in the surrounding area. Am Sam Ath said he was concerned about the villagers’ food situation and health and living conditions.

Sim Vuthear, administrator for the government’s social land concession committee, said Tuesday that soldiers had left Chey Sezna village Monday after the eviction was completed. He said the villagers were pleased with their new land.

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