Armed Military Police to Join Apsara Authority for Razing

Following threats from villagers, armed military and police forces will help secure a team that will forcibly raze hundreds of improperly constructed homes and shops within protected areas of Angkor Archaeological Park, an official said on Wednesday.

Apsara Authority, the government entity charged with overseeing the park, on Tuesday announced an August 10 deadline for the removal of illegal structures.

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Authorities in Siem Reap province inspect homes that were recently built illegally inside the Angkor Archaeological Park, in a photograph posted to the Apsara Authority’s Facebook page in June.

The Authority had previously organized a group of officials from across Siem Reap province to assist in tearing down the 523 unsanctioned structures erected in the weeks leading up to the June 4 commune elections. But they retreated after meeting resistance.

During the last eviction attempt, villagers had prepared bottles of gasoline with which they intended to burn Apsara vehicles, said Pheang Poeu, chief of Rohal village in Nokor Thom commune where some of the structures were erected.

A bolstered team of military police, police and Apsara officials will now carry out the removals if the new deadline is not met, according to Ly Samrith, a deputy provincial governor.

“I am worried that people will use violence against our forces, but we’ve already prepared armed forces to stop violence,” he said on Wednesday.

“We will not give pardon anymore for the illegal construction because we asked them to voluntarily remove [them] many times, but they have never done it so far,” he said.

Apsara initially claimed that officials had told the villagers to stop their construction to no avail. But its director Sum Map conceded last month that they had not spoken out against the developments, with residents saying they feared losing CPP votes.

Mr. Samrith added that his authorities had passed word of the new tear-down deadline through local authorities. He declined to say how many armed forces and officials would be involved in the process, only that the number had increased.

Mr. Poeu, the village chief, said he had not heard of the new deadline but worried about violence when the time came.

Sin Vuthy, one of the villagers who constructed a home, said protests are guaranteed if the authorities move forward with the removal.

“The authorities never stopped people from constructing houses, and now they are attempting to destroy our homes,” he said on Wednesday.

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