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Pursat Demonstrators Angered at Temple Destruction

More than 100 demonstrators gathered in Pursat province Monday to protest the destruction of a local temple for the alleged development plan of a private company, opposite officials and rights workers said.

Heng Chanthuon, head of the Sam Rainsy Party in Pursat, said about 30 families were going to have a temple torn down they'd built in 2002.

Authorities told them the land had environmental problems, he said.

A local rights worker, Nhoung Samoeun, of Adhoc, said the ouster of the families from their land was done with "no talk or legal solution."

Local government officials could not be reached for comment.

The protest comes on the heels of an outcry last week by Pursat teachers that local school land had been handed to the Cambodian People's Party for a political headquarters. Land theft is a political destabilizer in Cambodia, as economic improvement drives land prices upward.

UN human rights envoy Yash Ghai warned in December that land theft could cause Cambodians to "rise up" against the government.