More than 100 families living near the perimeter wall of Phnom Penh International Airport have been issued an eviction ultimatum warning them that their homes will be destroyed by bulldozers if they do not clear out by Dec 11, representatives of the community said on Friday.
The residents, however, said that they will not go quietly and will next week stage protests outside the Phnom Penh municipal offices and hold press conferences to highlight their plight.
“The protest and the press conferences will be held at the same time outside the municipality to tell the public and the authorities at all levels that we live here legally,” community activist Cheng Sokhan said.
“We have been living here since the 1980s and we always voted for the Cambodian People’s Party. Now some officials from this ruling party, which we voted for, are hurting poor people,” Mr Sokhan said.
Mr Sokhan said that promises from government officials to help in their case had come to nothing, and now a final eviction notice has been issued.
“Nobody is helping us, including officials at Samdech’s cabinet,” he said, referring to the office of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Phnom Penh Deputy Municipal Governor Mann Chhoeun said the community could protest but it wouldn’t change the fact that they will be evicted by the deadline. Those living around the airport should be thankful to the authorities who have allowed them stay there for so long, Mr Chhoeun said, noting that they lived near a busy main road and many had made a good living selling gasoline and doing other business over the years.
“The villagers should feel proud and pay thanks to the authorities that allowed them stay there,” he said.
“I met some of those villagers there. They are not poor. Some are ready to move because they have already purchased land elsewhere.”
According to an eviction notice from the Dangkao district authority, people living near the perimeter fence of the airport on Russian Federation Boulevard and Veng Sreng Street in Choam Chao commune must move out in order to improve security and safety at the airport and for planes landing and taking off. The removal will also “re-beautify” the area, according to the notice.
The notice also states that the residents have three options: refuse to move and have their homes destroyed by bulldozers, have their homes destroyed and then lodge a complaint at court, or resolve the case outside the court.
Homeowner Chhit Phan, 49, said the eviction will hurt the poor, particularly those “who
are not relatives of powerful
“Local authorities have issued identification cards and voting cards, which is sufficient proof of our legal ownership here,” Mr Phan said.