About 40 people who authorities claim were illegally squatting on state land were evicted from their homes Tuesday to make way for a cultural attraction in Siem Reap City, an official said Tuesday.
Khouy Kim Tour, director of the Inter-ministerial Land Dispute Working Group of the Apsara Authority, said a government sub-decree issued after the 2013 national election had granted 1,007 hectares of land in Nokor Thom commune to the authority for a planned “cultural tourism site.”
Mr. Kim Tour said that Tuesday, about 50 officials and police officers descended on the settlement of 26 homes, the majority of which had been occupied for less than two years.
“When the police evicted the villagers, they clashed for a few minutes but didn’t injure anyone,” he said.
Chhuy Vantha, an observer for rights group Licadho in Siem Reap province, acknowledged that most villagers were “newcomers,” but said three families had lived on the site since 1997.
“They took care of the land, they should be compensated,” Mr. Vantha said.
Villager Pheam Touch, 58, a member of one of those three households, said: “I will leave, as is their plan, but where else can I go to live if I don’t have money?”