In the early hours of the morning of July 7, 2014, armed police and military entered Lor Peang village in Taches Commune, Kampong Tralach District, Kampong Chhnang province, and surrounded the house of Um Sophy and her husband, Sngoun Gnoeugn. The police claimed that they want to serve a court summons to Sophy in connection with a land dispute between the residents of Lor Peang and KDC International, a Cambodian company owned by the wife of a powerful government minister. KDC is trying to seize 182 hectares of farming and residential lands from 83 families in Lor Peang for an economic land concession.
Residents in Lor Peang have been resisting the land grab by KDC for several years. The company and government officials view Sophy and Gnoeugn as “instigators,” and have threatened them with legal action as well as violence. KDC is trying to both buy and intimidate them: either they must accept the money the company is offering them, or they will be arrested. Some Lor Peang residents were able to gather at Sophy and Gnoeugn’s home earlier today to protect them. Others living nearby are being prevented from entering the village by the military and police and the military has instructions to shoot at villagers in order to disperse them. The company is also using agricultural workers brought in from other areas to disperse the gathered village residents.
If KDC is successful in seizing these lands, local people will lose their only homes and means of livelihood. The compensation offered by KDC is meager and inadequate. Lor Peang residents have appealed to the district and provincial authorities and courts for help. But instead of justice, they have been charged with “obstructing development” and threatened with arrests and legal actions. The state authorities seem to consider the interests of KDC to be more important than the rights the people of Lor Peang.
Please write to the Cambodian National Assembly and/or the Camodian Embassy in your country, and ask them to uphold the rights of people over profits and treat the people of Lor Peang with the same respect and consideration due to all citizens. The government must immediately withdraw all armed forces from the area and work with the affected peoples to resolve the conflict in a peaceful and just manner.
Cambodian National Assembly
Phone: 023 212 535
Fax: 023 220 629
http://www.national-assembly.org.kh/ (link to full directory)
See more photographs of today’s events on Facebook.