More Plots Readied for Land Titles at Boeng Kak

Phnom Penh deputy governor Khuong Sreng oversaw the demarcation of five more plots of land Thursday in the city’s Boeng Kak neighborhood, where at least 48 families are still fighting for formal land titles.

Some 3,000 families have been evicted from the neighborhood since the city leased the area to CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin in 2007 for his high-end real estate project. Nearly 700 families who held out against the evictions were granted titles afterward, but a few are still fighting for titles of their own. Getting their plots measured by the city is a key step in the process.

“Today we measured land for five families of the Boeng Kak neighborhood and we will continue to work for a solution to the problem for the rest of the families,” Mr. Sreng said afterward.

“Those who do not have land titles need to come to the negotiating table instead of going to the streets to demonstrate,” he added, referring to the ongoing protests that members of the Boeng Kak neighborhood have continued to organize to demand titles for the remaining families.

The city’s work measuring plots for the families has been ongoing but sporadic.

Thursday’s measurements came during a protest march several of Boeng Kak’s anti-eviction activists joined to deliver a petition to several foreign em­bassies asking for their help in securing the release of 23 protesters arrested earlier this month and an end to government violence.

Sia Phearum, secretariat di­rector of the NGO Housing Rights Task Force, said he suspected the timing of the measurements Thursday to be a ploy by the city to draw the Boeng Kak activists away from the march, which they did in fact abandon when they heard from neighbors that the survey team was at work.

“This is a simple tactic of the authorities to make the protests smaller,” he said.

Nget Khun, one of the activists who left the march and arrived after the survey team had left, also suspected the city of trying to give the five plots away to outsiders, as none of the families living nearby knew who they were being measured for.

“The police have hit me, they have put me behind bars, they shocked me unconscious and they even shot me with a slingshot, and I have no land title,” she said.

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