170 Families Near Airport Ordered To Move

Officials have ordered more than 170 families living along the western and southern fences of Phnom Penh International Air­port to move, saying the houses are illegal and pose a security risk.

The order from Dangkao district Deputy Governor May Mon, which was signed Aug 12, states that they have until Sept 13 to move.

“In case those villagers are not willing to remove themselves, the district will take legal action to bull­doze houses without respon­si­bility for any loss or damage to villagers’ property,” the order reads.

The homes must be removed for the safety of national and international travelers at the airport, and to improve security, the or­der says.

The document was issued following a speech made by Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chut­ke­ma in the district on Aug 6, in which he ordered the re­mo­val of those fam­­ilies, said Soth Sath, chief of Choam Chao commune.

The majority of those families have been living next to the airport since the 1980s, but they do not have land titles to prove they own the land because, technically, residential construction on the property is not allowed, he said.

“I was told by district officials that those families must move from the land without compensation be­cause they have been living there illegally for years,” Soth Sath said.

The families disagree.

“Our construction is legal,” said Ly Sim, 40, who has been living on the land since 1989. “I have enough documents to prove I be­long here.

“[Prime Minister] Hun Sen must issue this order on radio and television, and explain what the government is going to do with our land. Otherwise the people will not be hap­­­py,” he said.

Chan Sam An, 57, who said he has been living on the land since 1979, is collecting thumbprints from all families to send complaints to lo­cal authorities, district officials, the Na­­tional Assembly and the Council of Ministers.

“If they use armed force to bulldoze our houses, I don’t know what will happen because the villagers will not allow them to bulldoze. So I am scared there will be violence,” he said.

Chan Sam An noted that according to Hun Sen and the Land Law, anyone who has been living for more than five years at one location with acknowledgment from local authorities has the right to a land title.

May Mon could not be reached for comment Thursday.



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