Boeng Kak Residents Say They Were Told To Move Within Week

Residents of Phnom Penh’s Bo­eng Kak I commune said yesterday that Tuol Kok district officials have ordered them to leave the area by March 22, giving them little more than a week to clear out of homes they claimed they have occupied for decades.

Ken Sothea, 48, said she was among 22 families in the settlement known as Village 2 who were visited by a district official over the weekend with a letter bearing the March 22 eviction date and asking them to accept compensation: a 6-by-12-meter plot of land in Kandal pro­vince. She said the families have oc­cupied the Village 2 land since 1984.

“We are afraid of losing our houses,” Ms Sothea said. “We would live in hardship if we moved to this new land. It is empty.”

Tuol Kok district deputy governor Men Serey would neither confirm nor deny the eviction no­tice and referred questions to district governor Seng Ratanak, who hung up the phone when called yesterday.

Phnom Penh deputy governor Mann Chhoeun said he was un­aware of the situation.

“I don’t hide anything,” he said. “If I know about this, I will tell you immediately.”

Pan Dy, 42, who makes his living as a motorbike driver, said he would not resist the eviction, but worried abo­ut earning his way if forced to move.

“If we are ordered to go there [Kandal province], it is like dying,” he said. “I don’t know what to do if they remove me from my house.”

“I would not be able to run any business on this new land,” said Sam Sophear, 22, another Village 2 resident. “I want the state to help us survive. We will die if we go there.”

Housing Rights Task Force director Sia Phearum said he heard of the eviction notice from village residents on Saturday, but had yet to confirm the reports with district officials because they were out of the office for the weekend.

He did say, however, the residents live outside the 129 hectares around Boeng Kak Lake, which the Council of Ministers recently identified as part of the controversial construction project being headed by private property developer Shukaku.

   (Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)


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