Siem Reap Homeless Protest at Assembly

Nearly 20 people from a Siem Reap town squatter settlement that was razed by military police last week protested outside the National Assembly on Wednes­day after filing a complaint with the Ministry of Interior.

The protesters say they are afraid to go home because they claim the government can’t protect them from potentially vengeful Siem Reap authorities.

“We no longer believe the guarantee letter issued by the Ministry of Interior as the local authorities in Siem Reap don’t recognize it,” said one protester, 39-year-old Ream Run. “We only need a little compensation for further living but the Siem Reap authorities beat us rather than saying a word,” she claimed.

Ministry of Interior officials said Wednesday they have yet to receive the squatter’s complaint.

Three people were seriously injured Aug 11 when authorities violently rousted about 100 people from homes they built on the grounds of a former military hospital, human rights workers said.

Officials acknowledge destroying the settlement, saying the land belongs to the military and that its inhabitants had been repeatedly told to move. But military police deny using force when they evicted people.

However, the incident has drawn fire from human rights groups, some of whom were present during the eviction and confirmed claims that police attacked squatters with electric batons as they tried to get them to move.

“I was attacked in front of the [rights workers]. The Siem Reap doctor told me my lungs and liver were affected,” said Iok Thain, 59, who claims she was beaten unconscious during the eviction.

Thun Saray, director of the local rights group Adhoc, said the attack was an illegal violation of human rights and noted that rights groups have complained to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Thun Saray also questioned the military‘s claim on the land, citing an order given to provincial governors by Hun Sen in April mandating that land seized by the military had to be returned to villagers.

The provincial judge who ruled on this land use case—saying the military had ownership—was allegedly influenced or intimidated by Siem Reap authorities, Thun Saray maintained.

 

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