About 100 former residents of the Borei Keila community on Friday morning marked their violent eviction two years ago by authorities from their former neighborhood and demanded that their homes be rebuilt.
“We are the families of Borei Keila, and with this ceremony we mark the destruction of our homes two years ago, and we demand our houses back, because, now, we sleep under rubbish,” 28-year-old Prak Sotha, a former resident, said during the ceremony at the site of the former homes.
On January 3, 2012, police, military police and security forces destroyed the residents’ houses with excavators and arrested more than 10 people resisting eviction. Some people were injured as authorities used tear gas and electric batons to force people out of their homes.
A total of about 300 families were evicted to make room for a residential development project by Phanimex firm, owned by well-connected businesswoman Suy Sophan.
Ms. Sotha said Friday that as Phanimex had failed to provide the promised relocation housing, the former residents are forced to sleep under makeshift tents and lead the lives of scavengers.
“We only demand our houses back…. We hold this ceremony to remember and make demands, because we don’t want to live in misery,” another evictee, 28-year-old Ath Somnang, said.
The protesters held signs demanding that their houses be rebuilt and called on City Hall and the government for help, in particular Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong, who promised to solve the city’s many land disputes after he was appointed last year.
“Mr. Pa Socheatvong promised us at City Hall two months ago that he will solve this,” said Chhay Kimhorn, 35.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said that authorities were still working to solve the land dispute.
“We will still solve the problem of Borei Keila families who lost their houses, but we don’t know when we will finish yet,” Mr. Dimanche said.