Boeung Kak women hit streets again

Khouth Sophak Chakrya, Phnom Penh Post, Aug. 28  2012


Villagers from the Boeung Kak lake community protest outside the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

Two months after their release from Prey Sar prison, members of the so-called Boeung Kak 13 were yesterday at the forefront of more calls for authorities to mark out land promised to their community.

About 50 Boeung Kak women and children gathered outside Phnom Penh City Hall to urge authorities to demarcate 12.44 hectares of land that Prime Minister Hun Sen pledged to them just over one year ago.

Tep Vanny, one of the 13 women jailed for a month and three days after a three-hour trial on May 24, said she held fears for the future of her community.

“As long as the authority doesn’t demarcate our 12.44 hectares of land, our lives will not be secure,” she said.

Heng Mom, another of the 13 convicted for disputing public officials and occupying state land, said the official correspondence the community had received had created confusion at Boeung Kak.

One letter sent by Phnom Penh City Hall on August 17 cited that the authority would demarcate the land in question only after the land title was handed back to the community, she said.

But another letter, issued on the same day to 15 residents of Srah Chak commune in Daun Penh district – whose houses were shredded by machinery and filled with sand at the end of 2010 – stated that City Hall had measured and issued the 12.44-hectare land title back to the community, with the Shukaku company receiving more than 110 hectares.

Land at Boeung Kak was granted to Shukaku, a company owned by CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin, in 2007 for a US$79 million development. Thousands of families have since been evicted from the site.

“I have no knowledge of why City Hall responded to our proposal through the two letters,” Heng Mom said. “Why haven’t I got the land title?”

The protesters also submitted a letter to the Council of Ministers yesterday pleading for intervention to end the long-running dispute.

Licadho’s senior technical adviser, Am Sam Ath, said he would meet with City Hall officials this week to seek a resolution for the group, but the authority’s correspondence so far had divided villagers.

“It has caused confusion and conflict among the community and separated these people,” he said. “According to the government’s sub-decree 183, the government has to resolve this matter and provide the plot of land to the villagers.”

City Hall spokesman Long Dymong could not be reached for comment.

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