Villagers from 11 communities on Monday filed a petition over land disputes in Siem Reap province, the site of the famed temples of Angkor Wat.
More than 1,000 families are embroiled in disputes with Apsara Authority, which runs tourism at the temples, and other government offices, including the Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry administration.
About 700 people gathered in Siem Reap town to deliver a petition to the provincial government office, but they encountered about 100 police, who blocked them from entering the building.
No clashes or injuries were reported, and police say they did not “prevent” the villagers form delivering their petition, but rather had sought to keep order by having select representatives delver it.
Hon Ham, 33, a representative for 38 families embroiled with Apsara Authority over 161 hectares of land since 2005, said police stopped them from entering the facilities.
Sort Nady, Siem Reap provincial police chief, said police stopped them from “flocking in.”
“We just requested them to be in order, by appointing representatives to enter,” he said. “If they came in with hundreds people, how could they get in? There were 17 representatives who got in.”
Ultimately, the petition was given over to Kim Chhay Heang, deputy provincial governor, who promised to pass it to the proper authorities and respond within 10 days.
Chao Leak Vanna, investigation officer of the rights group Licadho, in Siem Reap, said the dispute is long and complicated, which has kept villagers from 11 communities from finding a solution.