More than 400 villagers engaged in a land dispute with a Kandal province developer held a Buddhist ceremony on Friday, praying for protection of 450 hectares of land they expect to be pushed from next month.
The villagers, from seven communes in Takhao town, Kandal Stung district, have been in conflict with the Heng Development Co. since 2005. Representatives said Friday they have lived on the land since 1983.
“In the past, I sought the help of the law, but local authorities don’t help resolve people’s problems,” said Soa Rong, 60, who prayed to Buddha and her ancestors in Friday’s ceremony. “I respect the law every minute, but the court and district and provincial authorities don’t respect their own laws.”
Takhao resident Uong Sim, 48, said the company had taken two hectares of her land.
“I would like to pray to the ancestral spirits, Buddha, God and my late great grandparents to help protect my land and to take my land back for me for farming,” she said. “Every day the people suffer poverty and live in hope of farming. But now there’s no land.”
A company official said it was following a 2006 decision of the Kandal court that provided 210 hectares to the company. The remaining 240 hectares remain in dispute.
Men Makara, a coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the prayer ceremony followed several unsuccessful demonstrations.
“Finally, the people decided to seek Buddha and other gods to help them,” he said.