About 100 residents of a community in the capital’s Russei Keo district yesterday rallied outside City Hall, demanding that authorities issue them land titles and end court action against six of their representatives.
Members of the Boeung Chhouk community say they have been living on the same property in the district for nearly 30 years, but in 2009 were threatened with eviction by district authorities, who said they occupied land belonging to someone named Tear Thoeurn.
“At that time, authorities pulled down six houses without a court order,” community representative Khieu Chenda explained. “They threatened [the owners] with arrest and imprisonment if we protested.”
Six representatives have been questioned in court, accused of using violence against another alleged owner, Lao Tongmie. Villagers say they have never met either Thoeurn or Tongmie.
“It is very unfair for us,” said villager Ouch Punlok. “We have lived here for nearly 30 years and people we have never seen before are claiming to be our landlord and accusing us of violence.”
Five representatives were permitted to meet with authorities yesterday. One of them, Chenda, said City Hall officials had accepted their complaint and promised to pass it to the governor.
Also at yesterday’s rally were a small number of former Boeung Kak lake residents who continue to protest against the authorities for offering them what they say is inadequate compensation. The protesters, whose families each accepted $8,500 to relocate from the Boeung Kak site after it was awarded to a company with links to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in 2007, pushed and shoved with Daun Penh district security guards. No one was injured in the incident.