Eviction Delayed for Residents Threatened by School Expansion

Phnom Penh Municipality has delayed the eviction of residents of a five-story building next to the Lycee Francais Rene Descartes in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, while students from the French school who spoke up in their defense are coming under some heat for their actions.

Deputy district governor Sok Penhvuth had said previously that the residents would be evicted Monday, but now says that the municipality will not evict the families for another week.

“I have requested from the municipality a notice letter to postpone for another week that we will deliver to the residents [Tuesday],” the deputy governor said Monday by telephone.

The land dispute has also pitted lycee students against school administrators and government officials.

A letter written April 10 and posted online Saturday from a member of the school’s Comite Occupation Descartes, Pierre Olivieri, claimed the students who protested April 9 in front of the school were “irresponsible” and were being manipulated by their parents and certain adults. The letter also announced the suspension from the committee of Brian Rohan, an American land dispute lawyer with children at the lycee, who offered support to the protesting students. Mr Rohan was traveling in China and did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

A school official on Monday referred questions to the French Embassy, while an embassy spokes-person declined to comment.

Raimondo Pictet, a 12th-grader who organized an April 9 protest at the lycee, claimed Monday that the protest was an independent act of the students.

“I’m starting to get tired; I am trying to fight this and I am starting to think I will not convince many people,” Raimondo said by phone Monday.

The 37 families who occupy the building have been separated into three categories for compensation depending on how long they have lived there: Category A has 13 families who will be compensated $10,000; category B has 11 families who will receive $7,000; and category C has 13 families who will be given $5,000. They also get a 4-meter by 8-meter plot of land at a Boeung Tumpun district resettlement site.



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