RUFA Residents Accuse Officials of Threats

More than 30 families living in­side the soon-to-be demolished Roy­­­al University of Fine Arts campus in Russei Keo district have ac­cused two faculty officials of using threats in an effort to move them.

Thann Sin Thou, a RUFA teach­er and leader of the families pro­testing their evictions from the campus, said Sunday the officials were in­­timidating families into accepting a compensation offer from the site’s developer, the Mong Reththy Group.

“We have suffered threats for weeks. They not only used threatening words but they used a rifle to in­­­­­timidate us into accepting too small an amount of compensation to move from the campus,” Thann Sin Thou said.

Some 20 teachers and residents went to the Ministry of Culture on Fri­day to deliver a com­­plaint against the two officials and an armed guard based at the cam­­pus. The letter ac­cuses RUFA De­­puty Director Khu­on Thorn, Orn Pag­na, deputy di­rector of RUFA’s scientific re­search de­partment, and a guard named Huor of intimidation.

“I am really scared because they car­­­ried a rifle, and we are wea­pon­less,” resident Seng Chan­da­ra said. “They also said that all the build­ings will be bulldozed very soon.”

Khuon Thorn could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Orn Pagna denied the teachers’ al­­leg­ations of intimidation, saying he had merely told the residents of the company’s compensation offer and that they had until June 30 to ac­cept.

“After June 30 I have no obligation to compromise between the com­­pany and those teachers. Then the company can do anything it wants, including bulldozing those build­ings because the land already belongs to the company,” he said.

Orn Pagna said 36 of 57 families living at the campus have already ac­­cepted compensation of less than $4,000. The remaining families, however, want $20,000 to $30,000 each, he said.

Thann Sin Thou said the families want 25 percent of the campus site set aside for their housing and $35,000 travel allowances to the new campus that Mong Reththy will build on the outskirts of the city.

Mong Reththy denied last week that any intimidation was taking place at the campus.

 

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