Amnesty International and local rights group Licadho issued statements Thursday condemning the violent and deadly eviction of over 300 families in Preah Vihear province last week and called on the government to stop all forced evictions nationwide.
“Amnesty International urges the Cambodian government to end all forced evictions and declare and enforce a moratorium for all mass evictions until legislative and police measures are in place to ensure that evictions are conducted only in full compliance with international human rights laws and standards,” Amnesty said in the statement.
“Forced evictions are driving an increasing number of Cambodians from their homes or lands without consultations, due process of law, legal or other protection, and without consideration of adequate alternatives,” Amnesty added.
Amnesty’s statement references two recent evictions: The forced eviction of 132 families living in Chroy Changva commune in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district on Nov 2 and the forced eviction in Preah Vihear province on Nov 15 during which police shot two villagers dead.
In its statement, Licadho also called for a halt to all evictions and also accused the police, military police and soldiers of looting as they burned the houses of the 317 villagers in Occheuteal protected forest in Preah Vihear province.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith did not comment on the Chroy Changva commune eviction, but defended the Preah Vihear eviction saying that authorities negotiated with villagers for a week before mounting their operation.
He reiterated that the villagers held two tourists hostage and attacked authorities first, leaving them no choice but to respond with force. “Does Amnesty support tourists being held hostage?” Khieu Kanharith asked. “Amnesty is far away. They just care about their name and their funding,” he said.