B Kak Evictees Protest, Demand Compensation

About 150 former Boeng Kak lake residents staged a protest at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park yesterday, demanding more compensation than they initially received when they were evicted from their homes to make way for a real estate project owned by the firm of a CPP senator.

Protesters complained that the amount of compensation they had received was too little and had resulted in the degradation of their living standards.

“The compensation we were giv­en is unfair,” former Boeng Kak resident Sam Vanna, 50, said at the pro­test. “Some people got $8,500 and some did not.”

Shortly after the World Bank suspended all new funds to Cambodia over the Boeng Kak evictions, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a sub-decree setting aside 12.44 hec­tares of land for about 800 families affected by the real estate project being carried out by Shukaku Inc.

About 96 families have since complained that they were ex­cluded from the sub-decree. But at yesterday’s protest, villagers said they did not want to be in­cluded in the 12.44 hectares and simply wanted more money.

“Recently, some families were granted plots in the 12.44 hectares. We don’t demand the same, but we do ask the government to give us $20,000 more in compensation,” Ms Vanna said. “The company and au­thorities forced us to leave. We don’t have enough money to support ourselves…. It’s made life very difficult.”

Another former lakeside resident at the protest, Seang Channy, 44, said that since she was evicted, she had only managed to earn about $1.25 a day from washing clothes. Before, she owned a stall selling noodles and made a tidy profit.

“I have suffered so much from what the authorities and the company did. I miss my home,” she said.

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