Vil­lagers protest against dam

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Soth Keom­soeun

SOME 30 vil­lagers, rep­re­sent­ing fam­i­lies from Stung Treng prov­ince who are re­fus­ing to re­lo­cate from the Lower Se­san II Dam site, yes­ter­day protested in front of the min­istries of In­te­rior and Na­tional Assem­blySe­nate Re­la­tions to de­mand of­fi­cials pre­vent their forced evac­u­a­tion and bring an end to their al­leged ha­rass­ment by lo­cal of­fi­cials.

Let Sreyneang, 19, from Srekor vil­lage, said that af­ter the dam went on­line late last month, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties started re­strict­ing peo­ple’s free­dom of move­ment, and be­gan threat­en­ing peo­ple to leave Srekor and Kbal Romeas vil­lages.

“This is the rea­son mo­ti­vat­ing them not to leave their vil­lages,” she said. “[If we] re­lo­cate to the non-flooded area from the flooded area, it will sep­a­rate our fam­i­lies, and will cause us to lose prop­erty, time, iden­tity, cul­ture and tra­di­tion, and we might be faced with ma­jor problems.”

But of­fi­cials have in­creased their ha­rass­ment and in- tim­i­da­tion to­ward the mostly eth­nic mi­nor­ity res­i­dents in both vil­lages, which is what prompted a group of them to come to the cap­i­tal yes­ter­day, said Kem Reoun, 51, a Ph­nong eth­nic vil­lager in Kbal Romeas.

Au­thor­i­ties have been re­strict­ing vil­lagers from their daily tasks, such as leav­ing the vil­lage to go to the mar­ket, he said.

“In short, au­thor­i­ties do not al­low peo­ple to leave the vil­lage,” he said. “There are peo­ple guard­ing ev­ery gate, and they have dis­man­tled a bridge.”

Vil­lagers also asked of­fi­cials in the cap­i­tal to help re­open pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties, such as schools and hospi­tals.

Se­san District Gover­nor Pon­leu Monkol said he hadn’t heard of any such in­stances.

Tes Rithy, an of­fi­cial at the Min­istry of Na­tional As­sem­bly-Sen­ate Re­la­tions, said he would re­view the com­plaint and for­ward it to the ap­pro­pri­ate in­sti­tu­tion.

Vil­lagers have come to Ph­nom Penh to protest and re­quest of­fi­cial in­ter­ven­tion on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions.

PHA LINA

Com­mu­nity mem­bers af­fected by the Lower Se­san II Dam gath­ered yes­ter­day to de­mand in­ter­ven­tion to stop forced evac­u­a­tions from ar­eas flooded by the dam in Stung Treng prov­ince.

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