Borei Keila Occupiers Given One Month to Vacate Building

Five years after the violent eviction of Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community, 15 families that have since occupied a building next door were on Wednesday given until the end of the month to accept compensation and leave.

“After this month, we will close the Borei Keila case,” said deputy municipal governor Mean Chanyada, who led a meeting with the families to inform them of their choices. “We already solved more than 90 percent of it. There are just over 10 families who have continued to refuse the offers.”

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Former Borei Keila residents protest near the site in Phnom Penh where they were evicted from five years ago. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The families can accept either $5,000 in compensation or $2,000 plus relocation to 20-square-meter apartments in Dangkao district on the outskirts of the city, he said.

“It is the final offer,” he said, adding that the building would then be demolished as it “is a private company’s property,” though he declined to identify the current owner.

Sor Sorn, a representative of the 15 lingering families, said the government had once again missed the mark.

“I will not accept either option. I want compensation in the form of a house in the development, like the other residents,” she said. “If they try to force us to move, we will volunteer to die here.”

On Tuesday, the fifth anniversary of the Borei Keila evictions, 35 of about 70 evicted families still living in temporary accommodation in Kandal province attempted to move into the building alongside the 15 families, but were forcibly repelled by state security guards.

In January 2012, police and military police clashed with about 200 Borei Keila villagers on a 2.6-hectare plot owned by businesswoman Suy Sophan’s firm Phanimex, a forced eviction that ultimately affected 1,776 families. The families’ homes were razed to make way for a new development.

Many were relocated to temporary housing on the city’s outskirts and in Kandal province while 10 buildings were being built on the Borei Keila plot to rehouse them. However, only eight were built before Ms. Sophan claimed she had run out of money to complete the rest.

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