Some Angkor Park Homes May Be Spared From Removal: Official

Some of more than 100 people who appealed to Siem Reap provincial authorities to halt the removal of their illegally-built structures inside Angkor Archaeological Park may be allowed to keep their homes, an official said on Tuesday.

Ly Samrith, a deputy provincial governor, said the provincial government was discussing with the Apsara Authority, the park’s managing body, about whether select houses could be spared from demolition.

“I have registered those families on a list and the names were sent to the Apsara Authority on Tuesday, asking them to review whether they should get a pardon for the removal,” Mr. Samrith said.

More than 10 families would likely receive pardons if officials found they had submitted requests to Apsara in advance of construction, despite never receiving permission from the body, he said. Others who built houses far from the world heritage site’s famous temples would also likely be granted relief, he added.

Lim Bunthea, 43, who built a house in Siem Reap City’s Slakram commune, said his wife went to the provincial government hall on Monday with more than 100 people to ask the provincial governor to intervene.

“The provincial government did not provide any solution for us but they promised to take our request to discuss with the Apsara Authority,” he said.

Mr. Samrith said provincial officials were in talks with Sum Map, director of the Apsara Authority, but no decisions had been made.

While the families’ cases were being reviewed, “we will suspend the removal of the structures for a moment,” Mr. Samrith said.

Villagers have been protesting the intended removal of more than 500 homes and shops, which Apsara has said were illegally built inside the park during the weeks running up to the June 4 commune elections.

Residents have claimed that authorities did not prevent them from building during the political campaign season in an effort to attract votes. Documents show the former CPP commune chief had signed some construction applications.

Long Kosal, Apsara spokesman, said he was unaware of discussions between Apsara and provincial authorities and declined to comment on Mr. Samrith’s statement that some homes might not be removed.

Authorities removed 76 houses and shops inside Angkor park from Thursday to Monday, with villagers agreeing to voluntarily remove an additional 44 structures, some of which had already been taken down, Mr. Kosal said. He said demolitions were continuing on Tuesday.

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