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10 Aug 2021

Sorn Sarath, CamboJA

Cambodia: About 300 villagers protest against company's attempts to close access to their farmland while sales agreement is not complete; company denies

"Land dispute at mega-airport project leads to protest, scuffle at access road", 10 August 2021

Landowners at the site of the new airport mega-project starting in Kandal province said the developer is still trying to encroach on their farmland even though they have not agreed to sell the affected land.

Long Sopheak, a villager in Kampong Talong village in Kandal Stung district, told … that about 300 villagers protested … after the construction company, the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC), reportedly sent bulldozers and attempted to close an entry road to farmland.

“The company wants to cut off the road to the villagers’ land inside the project site, they don’t want people to access their land location,” Sopheak said. “If we did not come on time, they would cut off the road and then it would be harder for people to complain as they could not access the farmland.”…

Kok Say, who is in charge of land acquisition for the new airport, told … the company is now continuing to purchase land from villagers based on a price offer of $8 per square meter.

“Many people agree to sell the land to the company, but the remaining protesters are demanding higher prices than the market, so sometimes we cannot please them,” he said. “We continue to maintain a settlement in principle, whether the person is powerful or ordinary people, the price is the same.”

… The project is also part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative project in Cambodia.

Ny Sokha, president of rights group Adhoc, said he welcomed new development but said it must come with justice and fair outcomes…