About 50 members of the Boeng Kak community rallied outside the World Bank’s office in Phnom Penh on Monday, covering fake $100 bills with chicken blood in an effort to discourage the bank from resuming funding of projects in Cambodia.
Wearing vests reading “World Bank = World Bad” and “World Bank destroyed my family,” the housing-rights activists painted bloody handprints on a sheet of paper covered in fake $100 bills and pressed against the organization’s front gate.
The fake money was drenched in blood by the ceremony’s close.
“This is a message we are sending to the World Bank,” said Tep Vanny, a prominent representative of the Boeng Kak community.
“We have come here to urge the World Bank to end the Boeng Kak issue because we heard recently that they will start cooperating with the government again, to provide assistance to Cambodia, even though Cambodia has yet to end the issues of its residents,” she said.
After admitting it had botched a land-titling project in Cambodia that affected Boeng Kak residents, the World Bank froze all new lending to the country in 2011 until the government managed to come to an agreement with the community.
By then, some 3,000 families around Boeng Kak had been forced from their homes to make way for a CPP senator’s real-estate project.
Before leaving Monday, the protesters presented a petition to the World Bank reiterating their opposition to any resumption of lending.
“If the World Bank does not respect its own stance in responding to people who suffered, we condemn the World Bank, which has sucked the blood of the Cambodian people and colluded with the government to commit corruption and serious violations of human rights,” it said.
World Bank spokesman Bou Saroeun said by email after the protest that the bank was committed to its 2011 funding freeze.
“The World Bank continues encouraging the resolution of remaining issues in the provision of titles for current Boeng Kak lake residents,” he said. “The World Bank has not approved new financing commitments to Cambodia since December 2010.”