Soon-to-be Evictees Mark World Habitat Day in Phnom Penh

Local housing rights groups marked World Habitat Day in Phnom Penh yesterday by condemning the use of violence against city residents protesting their evictions, calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene on their behalf.

In an event organized by the Committee on Housing Rights and Evictions, some 200 city residents facing eviction in Phnom Penh gathered at Chenla Theater to mark the day, which the UN established 25 years ago to promote the right to adequate shelter.

“Yet in Phnom Penh, Shukaku Inc continues pumping sand and water into Boeng Kak lake, forcing residents to live in inhumane conditions or abandon their homes while police persist in using violence against those peacefully protesting against the illegal development,” the Housing Rights Task Force said in a statement.

The statement also called on Mr Hun Sen to visit the lake to see the residents’ living conditions for himself.

City Hall granted Shukaku a 99-year lease to the lake area in 2007, slating some 4,000 families for eviction. In two protests late last week, groups of residents scuffled with intervention police, some of whom were seen shocking protesters with electric batons.

“The villagers have been seriously affected,” said Huot Muotdy, a lake resident. “[Shukaku] has pumped to fill the lake, which has caused the villagers to face eviction, and some of them are forced to leave with little compensation.”

City officials did not attend the event and could not be reached for comment. As for the organizers’ request that the premier visit the lake, Mr Hun Sen’s deputy Cabinet chief, Lim Leangse, declined to comment.

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