Anti-eviction activists called an early end to their fourth straight day of demonstrations in front of City Hall on Thursday, saying they were tired and disappointed that opposition CNRP President Sam Rainsy had broken a promise to bring thousands of protesting garment workers to join them.
During a brief visit with the activists on Wednesday, Mr. Rainsy said he would rally the garment workers and bring them to City Hall to support their demand for a public meeting with Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong. The activists are demanding more compensation for families who have been evicted from their Boeng Kak neighborhood homes to make way for a real estate project.
“We are a little disappointed that Mr. Rainsy did not come here as he promised, but we understand he is busy meeting garment workers in Kompong Speu province,” said Tep Vanny, one of the lead activists.
The group of about 50 activists had staged an eight-hour roadblock of Monivong Boulevard in front of City Hall on Wednesday and set fire to several tires in the street.
Another Boeng Kak activist, Sea Nareth, said her group would pull back to think up a new strategy to win the concessions it wants from the governor, who has ignored their request for a public meeting throughout the week.
Ms. Nareth said the governor had invited a few of them inside for a private meeting on Monday but were met by one of his deputies instead.
“We don’t want to go to meet him [inside] because we are worried they will lie again. We want him to come out to hear and talk to the protesters in public,” she said.
Contacted afterward, City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said Mr. Socheatvong still had every intention of finding an agreeable solution for the activists but needed more time.
“City Hall still maintains its commitment to do what the governor has promised, put please give City Hall some time,” he said.
The protesting families have been demanding better compensation for years for the homes they lost to CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin, whose private firm, Shukaku Inc., has filled in the lake once at the center of the Boeng Kak neighborhood to make way for his real estate project.
After the construction phase of the project broke ground in mid-2011, however, work quickly ground to a halt. The project area remains a completely undeveloped sandpit topped by nothing more than weeds and wild grass and devoid of any construction activity.
Mr. Dimanche declined to comment on the status of the project Thursday.