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40,000 Signatures Call for Protection Against Land Violations

Villagers in Kampong Speu protest against Phnom Penh Sugar Company for land grabbing, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - Nearly 300 representatives from families in 24 provinces and cities issued a petition to the National Assembly Monday, calling for better government protection of their land rights and the prevention of violence in land disputes.

The petition, which included 40,0000 signatures, says Cambodians have “suffered seriously” from forced evictions and land grabs, impacting their jobs, eduction and basic needs like food, shelter and health. It calls on National Assembly President Heng Samrin to help stop the evictions and have the courts release land activists who remain in jail.

“We urged the National Assembly to apply the constitution and push the authorities at all levels and the administration to respect democracy, stop evictions and release land activists and human rights activists from detention,” said Tep Vanny, an outspoken representative of the Boeung Kak neighborhood, where thousands of families have been evicted to make room for a commercial and residential development.

40,000 Signatures Call for Protection Against Land Violation
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The petition included signatories from as far abroad as France, Germany, New Zealand and South Korea.

Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the National Assembly “must” follow up on the petition, which was delivered to the Assembly’s human rights committee.

Pen Panha, head of the committee, did not reply to questions from VOA Khmer.