PHNOM PENH — A Phnom Penh man says his home was attacked Sunday by 20 men loyal to Senate President Chea Sim because he refuses to leave it in an ongoing land dispute.
Ly Sreang Kheng, 58, told VOA Khmer that men working for the head of security for Chea Sim, who is also president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, attacked his house.
Seven families in at the site, in Boeung Kak 1 commune, Tuol Kork district, are embroiled in a land dispute with the Khun Sear Import & Export Company.
Family members say they are being forced from their homes. At least four families have taken $15,000 in exchange for leaving, but others remain and refuse to leave.
Chea Sim’s chief bodyguard, Yim Leang, told The Cambodia Daily that he represents the Khun Sear company in some of its dealings and had sent him men to the site, but he said it was residents there that instigated the violence.
However, sitting on his cottage porch on Monday, Ly Sreang Kheng said his home, which he has lived in since 1982, was attacked by 20 men wielding wooden sticks, samurai-style swords and stones, as police stood by. The men smashed plates, glasses and a stove, as well as other property, he said.
“At the scene, [police] said they had just come to protect me, so when the thugs left, so did the authorities,” he said. “Those thugs said they were security guards of President Chea Sim, and that Yim Leang is their chief.”
Ly Sreang Kheng said he and his family have been threatened many times, and that he filed a complaint in March to local authorities, claiming public documents had been falsified, allowing his land to be sold out from under him. He has heard no response over the complaint.
Police officials were not immediately available for comment.
Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said families have been threatened multiple times on that site, but authorities have failed to investigate wrongdoings.
“The authorities seem to allow these thugs to do whatever they will, without respecting the law,” he said.