Apsara Authority Moves to Evict Hundreds of Squatters

The Apsara Authority will file a complaint to Siem Reap Pro­vinc­ial Court this week against hundreds of squatters whose houses were con­struc­ted inside the protected Ang­kor Wat compound, an Apsara Au­thority official said.

Deputy Director General Soeung Kong said the Apsara Au­thority reported 100 illegally constructed concrete buildings and many more wooden houses within the complex, following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s directive in June to clear homes in the area.

“We will file complaints against the owner of those houses to re­move their houses out of the Ang­kor compound,” Soeung Kong said Tuesday.

All concrete buildings must be removed, Soeung Kong said, citing concerns that foundations for con­crete structures could destroy po­tential archeological sites.

But, he said, longtime residents with wooden homes may be allowed to stay.

In a June 23 directive, Hun Sen ordered the authority to clear the land, saying squatters “caused disorder” by burning fo­rests to create parking spaces.                                    The goal was to beautify the com­pound to attract tourists, and per­mission given by the Apsara Authority to build there was invalid, the directive stated.

It also said restaurants in the compound would become state property.

Once the land is cleared, it will be turned into a park, where the Apsara Authority will plant trees, Soeung Kong said.

“When the trees grow, it will offer more beauty to Angkor Wat,” he said.

Angkor Conservation Bureau Chief Keo Saravuth said some squatters moved in before a 1993 Royal De­cree declared it protected land.

Hundreds may go homeless if the government does not relocate them, he said. “I think the government should make it a policy to help people who are asked to remove their houses.”

Siem Reap Deputy Governor Suy San said authorities had no plans to relocate the squatters.

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