Villagers Rebuild Shacks Destroyed by Police

On a narrow strip of land in Rus­sei Keo district, 132 families on Mon­day were reconstructing their meager shacks for the fifth time in as many days.

While the villagers admitted there was little hope this would be the last time that district and commune police would destroy their buildings—which they have done so every day since Thursday—the people said they had little choice.

“We have no place else to live,” said Tep Saran, 35. “We will conti­n­ue to construct the small shacks.”

Last Thursday local authorities told the families living in Deum Kor village in Chroy Changva com­­mune that they would have to move within three days because they were living on public land.

But an hour later, about 50 po­lice with a bulldozer started de­stroying the houses, the villagers said.

Afterwards, the villagers scavenged what material they could and rebuilt their homes, only to see police arrive the next day and de­­­stroy their homes again.

The villagers used to live in apart­­ments nearby but were forced to move in November after their rent increased. They built make­shift homes behind several pri­­vate residences.

District police Chief Ly Lay said his officers provided security for com­mune police who destroyed the homes but were not involved in the eviction.

Russei Keo district Governor Khlaing Huot and Chroy Changva commune Chief Pich Saroeun could not be reached for comment Monday.

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