Officials at the National Assembly accepted complaints Monday morning from 300 Phnom Penh residents who staged a protest to ask for help negotiating looming evictions in four high-profile land disputes.
Coordinated by residents from the Boeng Kak lake area who are ensnarled in an ongoing fight for better compensation for their land, and to coincide with the UN’s World Habitat Day, the protesters started gathering at 8:30 am Monday in front of the National Assembly.
They were joined by residents from the communities known as Group 78, Dey Krahorm and Rik Reay, who also face eviction in the face of private residential and retail development.
Dey Krahorm residents have been fighting against their eviction since 2003, while Group 78 residents have been facing eviction since 2006. Rik Reay residents, who live near the Tonle Bassac river, have been fighting eviction since 2004.
Authorities from the Assembly’s Protection of Human Rights and Reception of Complaints office accepted the protesters’ written grievances, said Sin Chany, a Boeng Kak lake residents representative who was one of the three people allowed inside the National Assembly.
“[Officials] told me they will send the letter to the relevant institutions and push them to solve the problems with the Boeng Kak case as soon as possible,” she said.
The gathering marked the fifth protest staged by the Boeng Kak residents, who face eviction amid the filling of the lake by private developer Shukaku Inc.
One Boeng Kak resident, Thai Nary, was optimistic despite the unsuccessful calls for help in the past: “I hope the National Assembly will solve the problem 100 percent because it is the top ministry,” she said. “They will discuss together to find a way to solve the problems for all the villagers.”
Pa Socheatvong, a deputy Phnom Penh municipal governor, downplayed the significance of the protest and reiterated that residents facing eviction will not receive market prices for their properties.
“The market rate compensation cannot happen. The land is the state’s land,” he said.