Families Living at RUFA Campus Report Threats

More than 30 families living in­side the Royal University of Fine Arts campus—which is slated for de­­mo­lition—said Sunday that an un­­identified man has been threatening them to accept a land compensation offer or risk losing their homes without being paid at all.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts swapped the centrally lo­cated RUFA campus near the Old Stadium to the Mong Reththy Group in exchange for a new campus in the Russei Keo district.

But instead of compensation, teachers and university staff who live inside the campus have said they would prefer that the Mong Reththy Group set aside 25 percent of the site’s land so that they can re­build their homes in the same area.

Residents said the unidentified man has visited four families.

Mong Reththy said Sunday that he was not aware of any intimidation.

“They just speak out to get their voices heard,” he said of the RUFA residents. “Please have some trust in me and my honor.”

A teacher who identified herself only as Neary said Sunday that two of the four families who were visited by the man last week ac­cep­ted $3,500 in compensation, fearing they wouldn’t get anything if they continued to demand land in­side the site.

“They are afraid of losing their houses before getting compensation,” she said.

Late last month, workers began preparing the RUFA campus for de­molition even though negotiations over compensation are ongoing. Armed guards have occupied one of the university’s buildings since May 22, claiming they were hired to protect the Mong Reththy Group’s property.

Community leader Thann Sin Thou said the unidentified man al­so warned that her house would be bulldozed on June 18.

Thann Sin Thou said she has asked Municipal Vice Governor Mann Chhoeun to intervene in the de­molition and has received word that university property will not be destroyed until the municipality gives its permission.

Mann Chhoeun could not be reached for comment Sunday.

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