Original report from Phnom Penh
12 June 2008
Khmer audio aired 12 June (1.53 MB) – Listen (MP3)
More than 100 people arrived at Adhoc’s Phnom Penh headquarters Thursday, seeking redress from Prime Minister Hun Sen in land disputes.
The families, from Koh Kong, Battambang, Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces, as well as Phnom Penh, plan to sit in front of Hun Sen’s house Friday.
“I tried to get resolution from the authorities, even those I go to the National Authority of Land Dispute Resolution, the office of Sok An, and provincial authorities, but no result, and now we think about Hun Sen’s help,” said Khem Rann, a representative from Sna Sang Kream village, in Siem Reap province.
Khem Rann said 88 families lost 254 hectares of land allegedly taken by a former adviser to Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
The villagers at Adhoc traveled with thumb-printed documentation of land ownership, and some of them brought their own rice for the trip.
“We represent 65 families who lost 2,460 hectares to an oknha. We want to meet Samdech Hun Sen because we think he is the only one who can resolve our problem, which we’ve met with for two years,” said An Haya, a representative from Koh Kong province.
Phnom Penh resident Lim Ly Kien, from Village 78, said he’d been in front of Hun Sen’s house six times, but received only promises. He cannot live in safety in the village, he said, so he’d joined the provincial representatives.
“It shows there’s been no resolution from local authorities; that’s why these people came to try to meet Hun Sen, because they think Hun Sen can help them,” said Chan Saveth, an investigator for Adhoc.
“If the problem of land grabbing continues, there will be a serious problem for the current government and the next government, and people will not live in security,” he warned.
Adhoc estimates these families have lost about 6,000 hectares of land.
Chum Bunrong, spokesman for the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, said the arrival of these villagers did not mean the authority cannot resolve their problems, but they came because they think they will get some gift from Hun Sen, and they were incited for political means.
“The best way for them is to stay at home and try to go from step to step, district and province, for resolution,” he said.