Boeung Kak Residents Fear Eviction Looms

Lakeside residents living near Boeung Kak in Phnom Penh are worried that the municipality’s re­cent ef­forts to measure their land and its plans to develop the area will inevitably lead to their eviction.

“I hear the government will de­velop this area,” villager Kim So­cheat, 40, said Sunday. “I feel scared I will be forced to relocate.”

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said the city has wanted to develop the area around the lake for almost 10 years.

“The municipality needs to de­vel­op that area,” he said. “The de­vel­opment at that place needs all the agreement from government, municipality…and local residents as well.”

But Mann Chhoeun said any development of the area “must be peaceful.”

“We will use a voluntary policy,” he said. “If the development is cruel, we will not develop it.”

Officials from Srah Chak commune and the land management de­partment in Daun Penh district, where Boeung Kak is located, began a 45-day project on April 19 to measure residents’ land and survey the families, said commune Chief Chhay Thirith.

“There are five officials in each working group. This is an urgent work that needs to be implemented soon,” he said.

Chhay Thirith said that the working groups were formed following an order from Mann Chho­­eun and Phnom Penh Gov­ernor Kep Chuk­tema.

But in a statement dated April 24, villagers said some of them were forced to pay $10 or $20, although they didn’t know what the money was for. They were also forced to thumb­print documents and have their photos taken.

“Some working groups order­ed the families to pay—some $10 and some $20. Another working group also forced each family to have their pictures taken by carrying placards after they measured the land,” the letter said.

Chhay Thirith denies officials ex­torted money from villagers, adding that the project aims to im­prove security in the area.

Village Chief Men Sokha, 47, however, denied claims that the area is unsafe.

“If the officials claim this area is not safe, they should set up a police station here,” he said.

 

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