Squatters, Police Clash Over Development

A confrontation between police and squatters in Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community turned violent Thursday morning during a protest against a deal between the city and the Phan­imex Co Ltd.

About 50 military police and Prampi Makara district police fired their weapons into the air and beat squatters with batons and AK-47s as the squatters tried to obstruct the construction of a fence in the area.

It was the first time that the controversial deal to develop the land had resulted in violence, villagers said.

The squatters have repeatedly voiced their disapproval of the plan to hand the 14-hectare plot over to Phanimex for redevelopment in exchange for new housing in a proposed $7 million complex of four apartment buildings.

Squatters tried to block construction workers from erecting a fence on the land when police intervened. Hem Sarun, 24, was struck in the head with a rifle butt. Other villagers said a 4-year-old child was knocked unconscious in the scuffle.

Police denied that they em­ployed violence. “We provided security for the investor,” said District police Chief Yim Sy­mony. He said two officers suffered hand and leg injuries when squatters hurled rocks at them.

“A small number of people who were incited to demand mon­ey…caused chaos, cursing and throwing rocks and tires to bother the construction of a fence surrounding the site,” the municipality said in a statement Thursday.

The squatters say they don’t be­lieve that the company or city intends to adequately house all of the 1,776 families in Borei Keila. They are seeking $5,000 compensation per family.

The city says it is being generous.

“We do this for you all, so that you can have houses to live in,” said municipal Cabinet Chief Mann Chhoeun.


Related Stories

Latest News