More than 100 villagers from Kampong Speu province on Friday submitted a petition to the Ministry of Land Management calling on the government to resolve their long-running land dispute with Cambodian People’s Party Senator and businessman Ly Yong Phat.
The protesters marched through Phnom Penh’s streets carrying banners, alleging that companies Phnom Penh Sugar and Kampong Speu Sugar have not provided them with proper compensation since moving onto the land.
Pok Son, 51, a protester from Oral district’s Chor commune, said her large family “couldn’t even find enough food to eat” despite members of the family being given jobs by Yong Phat’s company.
“Working for Ly Yong Phat is not stable. Some days they dismiss us and some days they allow us to work,” she said.
Some residents of Son’s village had agreed to accept compensation, but many others felt the cost would be too high. Many have since fallen into debt to pay medical bills and other expenses.
According to villagers, the company did not provide information to them before they moved in, only learning of the status of their land after the bulldozers had already moved in.
Chan Sokhoeun, a representative of villagers from Thpong district’s Omlaing commune, said the disputed Phnom Penh Sugar land was about 2,000 hectares in size and more than 560 families were affected, while a representative of villagers affected by the Kampong Speu Sugar company estimated about 700 villagers were affected.
Ly Yong Phat and company representatives could not be reached for comment.
Seng Lot, a land management ministry spokesman, said a cadastral committee was responsible for negotiations between the companies and villagers.