More than 700 people affected by land disputes gathered in Phnom Penh on Monday to protest in front of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction.
The protesters who came from Koh Kong, Kampong Speu, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces demanded a speedy resolution to their land disputes after the ministry delegated many of their cases to provincial authorities.
Saing Puy, a representative of Koh Sdech commune in Koh Kong province, told The Post on Monday that the protesters were all involved in long-standing land disputes and are demanding that the ministry speed up the resolution process.
She said many of those involved in the protests have submitted repeated petitions to the authorities but to no avail.
“They came together to protest because they are all involved in similar land disputes. Their lands have been seized by private companies or powerful people and they have been seeking government intervention for many years,” Puy said.
Ma Uk Choeun, from Oddar Meanchey province, told The Post on Monday that he has been fighting for more than 10 years after a sugar company displaced his family and 800 others without proper compensation.
After a meeting with village representatives, the ministry delegated the cases to the provincial authorities, noting that they will continue to monitor the situation, Uk Choeun said.
“We do not believe the issues can be resolved by provincial officials. We came here to seek direct intervention from the ministry. We will wait until we are given a solution and hope that the authorities will not waste our time,” he said.
Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction spokesman Seng Lot could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Koh Kong Provincial Hall spokesman Sok Sothy told The Post on Monday that the authorities generally find a solution for these types of conflict, but some cases may require a different approach.
“In some cases, the provincial officials have no authority to solve the issues, so it needs to go to the national level.
“Sometimes, the villagers’ demands are unreasonable so no solution is possible at the provincial level. However, if their demands are reasonable, we will resolve the issue immediately,” he said.
Ros Sophal, a villager involved in a land dispute in Prek Khsach commune in Koh Kong’s Kiri Sakor district, said more protests will follow if no solution is provided. He warned that next time they will ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to get involved.