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Protesters target sugar firm

Villagers from Kampong Speu, some of whom gathered on Wednesday outside the Phnom Penh Sugar Company offices, congregate in 2016 to withdraw their consent for the NGO Equitable Cambodia to represent them.
Villagers from Kampong Speu, some of whom gathered on Wednesday outside the Phnom Penh Sugar Company offices, congregate in 2016 to withdraw their consent for the NGO Equitable Cambodia to represent them. Hong Menea

Protesters target sugar firm

A group of some 70 people gathered on Wednesday outside Phnom Penh Sugar Company’s factory in Kampong Speu asking for compensation in a long-running land dispute.

At least some of those at the demonstration on Wednesday participated last year in protests against the NGO Equitable Cambodia, which had been working to settle the dispute on behalf of villagers – leading to allegations that they had been hired to smear the NGO by the company, which is owned by ruling party Senator Ly Yong Phat.

Mao Men, 40, one of the affected villagers from Sangke Satoap, said that 70 families in the commune had received certificates from a working group with the Land Management Ministry in April 2017 saying their land had been impacted by the company’s economic land concession and that they should be compensated.

“It’s been nearly a year they have not compensated us,” he said.

He said he was among the group that protested outside the Equitable Cambodia offices last year but only because the NGO was “not loyal” to villagers.

“They asked us to join many protests in Phnom Penh . . . but in the end, other groups of villagers who have not joined protests got compensation instead,” he said, denying he had ever received payment from the company.

Representatives of the NGO could not comment before press time and Phnom Penh Sugar declined to comment.

Vy Samnang, Kampong Speu provincial governor, said disputes with 144 families in the province were ongoing. He appealed to villagers with documents to file them to the provincial hall.

“If they really have documents, why don’t they come to submit them to us?” he asked.

Reached again for comment, Men said authorities had not informed families they needed to file paperwork with the provincial hall.

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