Former Borei Keila Residents Protest Apartment Rejections

About 40 evictees from the Borei Keila community blocked a road in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district for nearly two hours yesterday, protesting a letter written by municipal governor Kep Chuktema stating they had no right to state-provided housing.

According to a copy of the letter dated Feb. 21, Mr. Chuktema wrote to the Council of Ministers in re­sponse to an SRP request to investigate the eviction of more than 300 families from the community on Jan. 3 by armed forces and the Phan­imex company.

“Some villagers are not eligible to receive buildings from the state be­cause…there are no documents,” Mr. Chuktema wrote.

On Jan. 11, 30 women and children from the community who had been staging a protest were forced onto a bus and taken to Prey Speu Social Affairs Center, where many were held for a week without charge. A week later, the detained women and children climbed over the metal gate and concrete wall of the center after SRP lawmakers Mu Sochua and Sovanna Pisakha ex­plained that the center had no right to hold them.

In his letter, Mr. Chuktema reiterates the municipality’s stance that Bo­rei Keila evictees were not for­cibly detained at the center. But the letter also accuses SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua of inciting the de­tainees into leaving the center.

“Opposition party member Mu Sochua led SRP activists, reporters and some non-government organizations to incite 18 villagers to leave by jumping the gate at Prey Speu Center,” he wrote.

Protesters yesterday said the governor’s comments were false.

“We have enough documents including birth certificates and ID cards,” protester Chum Ngan said. “We were forced by the governor and detained at Prey Speu.”

Although Phanimex said in 2003 it would construct 10 apartment buildings for evicted residents, only eight have been built. Phanimex chairwoman Suy Sophan said some of the protesters had already been granted apartments.

“About 40 families have received apartments and sold them, and they are still protesting,” she said.

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