Protesters March on World Habitat Day

More than 1,500 protesters from across the country marked U.N. World Habitat Day in Phnom Penh on Monday, marching to demand that the government stop land and housing evictions and properly compensate those who have already been evicted.

The group gathered Monday morning at the site of the former Dey Krahorm neighborhood in Chamkar Mon district, where one of the most violent evictions in Phnom Penh’s recent history took place in 2009.

Protesters distribute lotus flowers in Phnom Penh on Monday ahead of a demonstration to mark World Habitat Day. About 1,500 protesters marched to the National Assembly, where they delivered a petition calling on the government to end forced evictions and compensate those already affected by them. (John Vink)
Protesters distribute lotus flowers in Phnom Penh on Monday ahead of a demonstration to mark World Habitat Day. About 1,500 protesters marched to the National Assembly, where they delivered a petition calling on the government to end forced evictions and compensate those already affected by them. (John Vink)

After speeches by monks and activists, protesters hoisted up a small wooden house and led the demonstration down National Assembly Street toward parliament, where they hoped to deliver a petition.

After three hours of shouting outside the National Assembly, eight representatives were allowed inside to deliver the petition to four lawmakers: Ke Sovannaroth, Eng Chhay Eang and Chan Cheng from the CNRP, and Lor Kheng from the CPP.

“We met four lawmakers and they promised to find a solution during the next assembly session,” said Long Chandy, one of the representatives, after returning to the street.

Huy Yarom, 56, a protester and member of the evicted Boeng Kak lake community, said she did not expect the protest or petition to accomplish much.

 

More than 1,500 anti-eviction protesters march down National Assembly Street to deliver a petition to lawmakers Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
More than 1,500 anti-eviction protesters march down National Assembly Street to deliver a petition to lawmakers Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The lawmakers promised to solve the problems for us,” Ms. Yarom said. “I don’t believe them, but we must try because we don’t have homes.”

As the demonstrators continued, this time down Street 7 to deliver another petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet, the group was stopped by a barricade manned by a dozen security guards. After an hour at the barricade, the protesters handed the petition to Kong Chamroeun, a cabinet official, and Khuong Sreng, deputy governor of Phnom Penh, and ended the march.

pheap@cambodiadaily.com, mueller@cambodiadaily.com

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