Bodyguards employed by a private developer who is an assistant to Senate and CPP President Chea Sim attempted to forcibly evict 24 families from their homes in Sihanoukville, human rights activists and villagers said Sunday.
About 30 armed bodyguards employed by Cambodian-American lawyer David Chanaiwa arrived with an excavator at the settlement on the south side of O’Chheuteal beach at 11 pm Saturday and surrounded the area, according
to Cambodian Center for Hu-
man Rights investigator Khem Samnang.
Khem Samnang said Chanaiwa, who has a residence nearby, was also present.
They told the people they must remove their houses immediately or they would be knocked down with no compensation paid, Khem Samnang said. “Several of the families were afraid so they thumb-printed the document [agreeing to compensation of up to $10,000 per family] and left on Sunday afternoon,” he said.
Licadho coordinator Bun Narith said the villagers had lived in the area since the early 1990s and had written several letters to district and municipal authorities Sunday seeking help.
Chanaiwa could not be reached for comment Sunday but an assistant, who gave his name as Pol, said the people were only being asked to move so that the road nearby could be improved.
“There has been no forced evictions,” he said. “We need to de-
velop this road for the public
Mittapheap district governor Kong Sa Moeun said he did not know details of the incident.
Commune 4 chief Khuon Sarun said she did not know of an eviction order from the authorities relating to the people on O’Chheuteal beach. “Commune authorities were not involved with this,” she said, adding that she would bring the matter to the attention of municipal authorities.
Sihanoukville Municipal Governor Say Hak could not be reached for comment on Sunday, while his deputy Sbong Sarath said he was too busy to speak to a reporter.