Tensions flared Thursday at the Royal University of Fine Arts when bulldozers destroyed a concrete-block house, three days before the deadline for families on the North Campus to either accept offered compensation or leave.
“Those company officials and workers must have been watching me because I had just left my house and was only a few meters away when they started demolishing it,” said house owner Uch Channa.
The Mong Reththy Group, which obtained RUFA’s land from the government in exchange for rebuilding the campus in Russei Keo district, has been offering compensation of up to $4,000 to RUFA teachers and their families living on the site.
About 25 families have so far refused to budge, said Thann Sin Thou, a RUFA teacher and community leader.
They are asking for either a quarter of the site to live on or compensation at land market value.
According to Thann Sin Thou, Tann Monivann—son-in-law of group president Mong Reththy—visited the families on Monday and promised that their homes would be spared until they had come to an agreement.
The families now feel under siege, said RUFA teacher Sam Sithy. “If I have to go out, my brother stays at home because we are afraid our house will be bulldozed,” she said.
An Pagna, director of RUFA’s cultural research department, on Thursday defended the company’s destruction of Uch Channa’s home, saying this was her deceased husband’s home and that she had left it years ago.
Not so, said Uch Channa, saying she has been living all along in the 7-by-8-meter house.
Phnom Penh Vice Governor Mann Chhoeurn visited the site Monday and urged both sides to meet face to face to solve the matter, said Thann Sin Thou.