Families Near School Take Compensation

All remaining families living in a building adjacent to the Lycee Fran­cais Rene Descartes school in Phnom Penh have accepted compensation and have agreed to move out before May 15, residents and officials said Thursday.

Three families who were refusing to leave reached an agreement with municipal officials on Thurs­day and will receive $20,000 in cash but no land, resident Kim Vichet said. But, he added, the residents still feel they have been forced to ac­cept compensation, which they still consider to be inadequate. “We accept it with forced hearts,” he said.

The 37 residents were originally offered three types of compensation depending on how long they had lived in the building. Category A received $10,000, category B re­ceived $7,000 and category C was given $5,000. Each of the families was also offered a 4-by-8 meter plot on the city outskirts.

Since the final eviction notice was issued requiring families to vacate the building before May 15, the fam­ilies have negotiated separate deals with City Hall, and the compensation each family accepted seems to have varied wildly.

In Daravuth, a building resident since 1979, said he had accepted compensation of $1,000 and a house somewhere on the city’s outskirts. But the move would cause severe problems for his family, he added.

“The location in Dangkao district is very far from my children’s school and other good services,” he said.

Deputy Municipal Governor Mann Chhoeun said it was a good sign that all the residents had decided to move out peacefully.

“It is a good solution that both sides have reached an agreement outside of the court system,” he said. The building is needed to expand the school and build more “human resources,” he added.

Reached by telephone Thursday, Brian Rohan, a US land rights lawyer whose children at­tend the school and who supported the student-led protests against the evictions, said that the compensation was inadequate, and that the families would have to move out before they had time to build new homes.

   (Additional reporting by Cajsa Collin)





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