NGO ‘cheated’ land row villagers

Source: Khmer Times

A file photo shows villagers staging a protest over a land dispute with Phnom Penh Sugar Company. KT/Mai Vireak

Almost 100 villagers from Kampong Speu province have filed an Interior Ministry complaint against the NGO Equitable Cambodia, accusing the organisation of cheating locals over a dispute with the Phnom Penh Sugar Company.

The villagers submitted their complaint at the ministry and also went to protest outside the headquarters of the organisation, as well as the EU’s Phnom Penh office, since the EU is a major importer of Cambodian sugar.

The complaint accuses the NGO of blocking a resolution to a dispute between villagers and the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, which is owned by tycoon and senator Ly Yong Phat.

It says Equitable Cambodia was charged with coordinating negotiations between villagers and the company, but refused to let locals meet with representatives of the firm.

The complaint also alleged the organisation incited villagers to protest against the company.

Tuon Soeun, from Trapaing Chor commune in Kampong Speu’s Oral district, said the company agreed to pay compensation to the villagers, but Equitable Cambodia accused villagers of “selling their heads to the company.”

Rim Sim, a former representative of Trapaing Chor commune villagers, said the NGO repeatedly blocked locals from taking part in negotiations with the firm.

Equitable Cambodia chief Eang Vuthy could not be reached for comment.

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