Anti-Eviction Protesters Burn Tires, Block City Hall

About 30 anti-eviction protesters from the Boeng Kak lake community, along with 20 Buddhist monks, blocked the gates of Phnom Penh municipal hall and burned tires Monday demanding more compensation for evicted families, and calling for the removal of governor Pa Socheatvong.

During the daylong demonstration, protesters twice blocked traffic along Monivong Boulevard, standing and sitting along the street chanting “Pa Socheatvong get out,” a slogan that has been directed at Prime Minister Hun Sen during the past week of opposition CNRP rallies. 

Anti-eviction protesters, along with a group of Buddhist monks, burn tires in front of Phnom Penh municipal hall on Monday, calling for governor Pa Socheatvong to meet their demands for more compensation over their eviction from the Boeng Kak area. (Siv Channa)
Anti-eviction protesters, along with a group of Buddhist monks, burn tires in front of Phnom Penh municipal hall on Monday, calling for governor Pa Socheatvong to meet their demands for more compensation over their eviction from the Boeng Kak area. (Siv Channa)

Monks and the anti-eviction protesters held banners that read “Today and tomorrow, no Hun Sen!” and “Get out Hun Sen!” and held up photographs of the lakeside homes they had lost.

“If His Excellency Pa Socheatvong has no ability to resolve the issue, he should get out,” said Im Sreytouch, a representative of the Boeng Kak community, who was among those forcibly evicted and given $8,500 in compensation.

After demanding to meet Mr. Socheatvong to seek better compensation, five representatives from Boeng Kak were invited into City Hall in the morning, but came out to continue their protests after meeting with one of the governor’s subordinates, deputy governor Khuong Sreng.

“We want to meet directly with Pa Socheatvong,” said Sea Nareth, 56, another community representative.

Since Shukaku Inc., the company owned by CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin filled in Boeng Kak lake and collaborated with authorities to evict thousands of families, the evictees have staged almost daily protests against municipal and court officials for the loss of their homes.

One group of Boeng Kak protesters, led by Tep Vanny and Yorm Bopha, have refused to leave their homes, while the group, which protested Monday, is demanding more compensation from City Hall though they were evicted already.

Late into Monday evening, the monks and evictees stood in front of three entrances into City Hall, blocking municipal officials from leaving the compound as five tires burned in the middle of Monivong Boulevard and in front of the gates.

The Venerable Koem Sam Oeun, a monk from Battambang province representing the Independent Monks’ Network for Social Justice, said that they were present at the demonstration to protest against the administration of Mr. Hun Sen.

“We refuse to support Hun Sen’s policy to sell the land,” Koem Sam Oeun said, adding that he was concerned about Mr. Hun Sen’s upcoming visit to Vietnam on Thursday.

“As soon as [Mr. Hun Sen] goes to Vietnam, he will take the [Vietnamese] recommendation to mistreat the Khmer people,” he said.

The group of protesters, who gathered at 8:30 a.m., finally disbanded at about 7:20 p.m.

Before leaving City Hall, one of the monks announced over a loudspeaker that they would continue their demonstration today

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