Woman to Receive $10,000 Compensation After Standoff

A woman who locked herself in her home with her children on Wednesday as excavators prepared to flatten her village for development will receive $10,000 in compensation, officials in Kandal province said Thursday, less than half of the amount she demanded after agreeing to end the standoff.

More than 300 families living in the shadows of the Prek Kdam bridge had agreed to vacate their homes to make way for an upgrade to an onramp. But when heavy machinery moved in on Wednesday afternoon, So Phallya, the last person holding out, refused to leave, according to provincial governor Mao Phirun.

“The woman locked herself inside because she wanted to procure a lot of compensation. So we sent our authorities, not to force, but to compromise,” he said, explaining that about 30 police and military police surrounded the woman’s house.

According to both Mr. Phirun and Ms. Phallya, as she hunkered down in her home with her children, local authorities, led by Ponhea Leu district governor Tong Sivma, attempted to negotiate a settlement. Both parties say she demanded $25,000.

“She asked for too much. How about all the other families who agreed to move already?” Mr. Phirun said, explaining that the 300-plus families who had moved out by Wednesday had each settled for a plot of land about 7 km away and compensation of $7,000 to $10,000.

Mr. Phirun said that after two hours, Ms. Phallya agreed to come out of her house and take $10,000, having been convinced that she was living on state land to which she had no claim.

However, Ms. Phallya said the district governor told her to write down her demands on a piece of paper, and that they would be met.

“The authorities made a contract with me for $25,000 and asked me to sign,” she said. “If they didn’t agree to that, I would not have left.”

“I don’t know if it was a trick or not,” she added.

Mr. Sivma, the district governor declined to comment on Ms. Phallya’s claims.

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