Sitting on the veranda of a stilted house, a group of Cambodian fishers drink tea and sort crabs into buckets as they discuss when they might have to leave their homes. In 2020, Boeng Thom Angkep, a finger-shaped lake tucked below the forested hills of Ream national park on Cambodia’s south-western coast, was granted to an elite family to develop.
After nearly two decades of peaceful existence, hundreds of lakeshore residents now face eviction. Weekly the authorities cross the rickety footbridges that link the stilt houses to the shore to take photos and warn that demolition could start at any time.
“I don’t want to leave my home for even one day or they might come destroy it,” says 42-year-old Khun Dina. “We’re like small birds in a cage. They can smack us down whenever.”