Disgruntled villagers march to PM’s house

May Titthara ,Phnom Penh Post,April 2012

Boeung Kak lake villagers will protest “until they die” if authorities do not help them find a solution to their housing dispute, villager Heng Mom told the Post during a demonstration in Phnom Penh yesterday.
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POLICE LINK ARMS IN AN EFFORT TO PREVENT A GROUP OF HOUSING RIGHTS DEMONSTRATORS PROTESTING IN FRONT OF PRIME MINISTER HUN SEN’S HOUSE IN PHNOM PENH YESTERDAY.

More than 100 villagers from Boeung Kak lake, Borei Keila and Street 347 gathered at the capital’s Freedom Park to march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house with a petition.

During the walk, about 100 police and district security guards banned them from walking along Norodom Boulevard, forcing them into Street 19.

Heng Mom said Boeung Kak villagers were urging Hun Sen to mark the boundaries of 12.44 of hectares he agreed in August to give them and to issue land titles to 94 more families.

“They’ve torn down our homes, they’ve filed a complaint about us to the court; I would like to condemn the court, because it is not independent,” she said, adding that they would keep protesting until they died.

Pich Lim Khhoun, a representative of villagers from Borei Keila who are in dispute with development firm Phan Imex, said the company should honour an agreement it made in 2004.

“We would like the government to order the company to construct two more buildings for us,” Pich Lim Khhoun said.

Pao Pannha, a villager representative from Street 347, said 14 families in his community faced losing their homes because City Hall wanted to widen the road.

“We ask the Prime Minister to order commune officers to stop using the word ‘develop’ to take villagers’ land,” he said.

Kong Chamroeun, a cabinet official, said he had received the petition.

“Villagers can call me [tomorrow] to get the result. I have written down my number for them already,” he said.

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