The last remaining families that are refusing to leave Phnom Penh’s Dey Krahorm community were issued a final eviction notice over the weekend by Chamkarmon district, officials said.
The Dey Krahorm area families, numbered at 91 by the district but estimated by community representatives at closer to 130, have until midnight Tuesday to voluntarily pack up and move to alternative housing provided by the 7NG company in the city’s suburban Dangkao district, according to the notice.
“Now there are 1,374 families that have moved to live in the above mentioned location and only 91 families have not yet moved to the new location,” Chamkarmon District Governor Lou Yuy wrote in the eviction notice dated Dec 25 and served Saturday.
“Chamkarmon district office hopes that people will implement this notice effectively, with a spirit of understanding and good cooperation,” Lou Yuy wrote.
Contacted by telephone Sunday, Lou Yuy declined to say what measures would be taken if the Dey Krahorm families do not comply with the final notice.
Deputy district governor Kim Chhun Ou said he also didn’t know what will happen if the residents refuse to relocate by the deadline.
Any attempt to evict the 130 families forcefully would most likely be met with aggressive resistance,” said Chan Vichet, a Dey Krahorm community representative.
“If the authorities use any actions that lead to ruining the villagers’ property, people will respond violently in order to protect their legal property,” Chan Vichet said.
The private 7NG firm was granted the Dey Krahorm land in a 2006 deal with Phnom Penh municipality and plans to develop the former slum area into high-end residential and retail property.
The only stumbling block to the lucrative land deal was the issue of relocating the estimated 2,000 poor families who had lived for decades in Dey Krahorm but who, like many in Cambodia, did not have official land titles.
Chheang Bunna, a 7NG staffer overseeing the Dey Krahorm redevelopment project, said Sunday he knew nothing about the latest notice.
While efforts since 2006 to relocate Dey Krahorm residents have been the responsibility of 7NG, the latest notice shows that government authorities are not neutral as they are weighing in on behalf of the private firm, said Am Sam Arth, an investigator for local human rights group Licadho.
“Authorities should play the role of arbitrators in addressing this [land] dispute,” he said.
Licadho lawyer Ham Sunrith, who has represented Dey Krahorm residents, said “there can be no eviction without proper compensation, and their willingness to leave.”
Those who remain at Dey Krahorm are seeking financial compensation for moving, or want on-site relocation in the 7NG development planned for the area.
A 17-year resident of Dey Krahorm, well-known Chapey traditional Cambodian guitar player Netr Pe, 52, said Sunday that he earns about $25 per month from his government salary as a master teacher of his instrument. Netr Pe said that if he agrees to relocate to Dangkao district, that salary would not cover the cost of transportation to and from his place of work near the Russian Market in Chamkarmon district.
“I am blind. I cannot live where the company provided us land because it is far away from my place of work,” he said. “How can I live?”