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Villagers Rise Against Koh Kong Land Grabs

More than 200 workers attempted to block a rural road in Koh Kong province Monday, in protest of alleged ongoing land grabs by a local official and businessman.

Workers sought to block the road with makeshift barricades, claiming land disputes with local Cambodian People's Party senator Lee Yong Phat had gone unsolved.

Lee Yong Phat could not be reached for comment.

The strikers carried signs and placards appealing to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin to solve the disputes.

Chheng Sophoas, an investigator for the rights group Licadho, said more than 200 villagers stood in the middle of the public road, but police and military police took down their barricades and prevented them from demonstrating.

No violence took place during the strike, he said.

Sen Chao Sok, an investigator for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, criticized the local authorities for prohibiting the strike, saying that authorities should respond to the demands of villagers instead.

Koh Kong Governor Yuth Phouthorng said his staff had sent a complaint from the villagers to the Ministry of Interior seeking a resolution.

There is no law that allows villagers to hold such a strike, he added.

Land disputes in Koh Kong have been common since 2006, and repeated requests from villagers to solve the problem have gone unanswered.