Villagers who accuse a sugarcane company of stealing their land in Koh Kong province gathered in Phnom Penh on Thursday to petition the government and E.U. to help resolve the dispute.
Around 70 villagers representing 147 families from Sre Ambel district visited the E.U.’s head office, the National Assembly and the Agriculture and Land Management ministries, asking for help obtaining compensation and the return of a combined 782.16 hectares they accuse the Koh Kong Sugar Company of taking in 2006.
Villagers from Koh Kong province speak with police in Phnom Penh on Thursday as they make their way around the capital delivering petitions against their eviction at the hands of a sugarcane company. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily) Min Ann, a villager representative who claimed he lost 10 hectares of farmland in the dispute, said the government’s efforts to resolve the case would influence how the families voted in next year’s commune elections.
“I hope the government will settle this issue, because it is close to the election and if the government has not resolved the issue we will no longer trust the government,” Mr. Ann said.
The E.U. announced in 2014 that it would work with a special government committee to find a way to compensate people across the country who have lost land to sugarcane plantations.
The Koh Kong families, who were allowed to enter the E.U. office on Thursday, said they met briefly with E.U. Ambassador George Edgar to press their case.
“We met with the E.U. ambassador, who asked if we received compensation and we told him that we got nothing,” said Phav Nhoeung, another representative. “He will request to meet with the government again to discuss this and will try to visit the site.”
Mr. Edgar and spokespeople for the agriculture and land management ministries could not be reached for comment.
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