Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Number of Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protesting against Their Eviction Declines Steadily – Saturday, 22.8.2009

Posted on 23 August 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“The Daun Penh authorities had agreed to wait seven more days before evicting people from Village 2 and Village 4 of the Boeng Kak community. The delay was made following the decision during a meeting with the Daun Penh authorities on 20 August 2009, when also the Phnom Penh Municipal deputy governor Koet Chhe joined the event. In the meantime, the number of people protesting against their eviction has declined steadily.

“On 20 August 2009, forces deployed by the the Phnom Penh authorities, dispersed citizens of 70 families, to stop them protesting in front of the Municipality, and yesterday [21 August 2009], there was a report that only 40 families [instead of 50] keep on protesting, and the number might still be smaller on 28 August 2009.

“Different news said on 21 August that some citizens stated they better die by the hands of the Khmer authorities, than agree that their houses are demolished by force by the machinery of the authorities.

“Boeng Kak residents said that the protest by citizens from Village 4 in the Boeng Kak region in Phnom Penh aimed to demand the Shukaku company of Oknha Lao Meng Khin, a Senator from the Cambodian People’s Party, to offer an in place development [as this was originally also discussed as a possibility]. This demand was raised again during the protest in front of the Phnom Penh Municipality on Thursday 20 August 2009, but the protesters were then chased away by the authorities.

“A representative of the 70 families in Village 4, Mr. Pov Toury, said that his villagers have not given up protesting, but they stay quietly at their house. If there is an action to remove their houses, they will struggle to death. He said, ‘If they come to remove my house, I will struggle to death… I cannot go anywhere else, because, you know, our houses are our lives.’

“But after that protest there was information that 30 families had agreed to remove their houses.

“An official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia yesterday morning that the authorities do not respond to the demands of the residents, disappointing many observers.

“A Daun Penh district councilor from the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Heng Samnang, said that the authorities do not care to solve their demands. He said, ‘I also raised the case, but I do not have much power.’

“On 20 August 2009, a special working team of the Housing Rights group held a press conference to announce that citizens of Village 4 had agreed to accept the option of development-in-place offered by the government in 2007. But they do not agree to leave the Boeng Kak region for four years before they can return, because they fear that they authorities would forget the promise.

“Since the development plan of the Shukaku company started to move on, after the permission for the investment plan was granted in 2007, citizens of two villages of the Boeng Kak region have been affected. Some had finally agreed to remove their houses in order to avoid to be tormented by the authorities through violent ations as had previously happened to other villagers in Phnom Penh.

“Human rights officials from non-government organizations said that the inhabitants of at least four more villages will face eviction from that region.

“It should be noted that Amnesty International released a statement late last week, asking the Khmer authorities to immediately stop evicting citizens from Village 2 and from Village 4 in the Boeng Kak region.

“The statement of Amnesty International asked the authorities to reconsider the plan to evict citizens and move them to live in the Damnak Trayueng region, a suburb of Phnom Penh, because in that region, there are no proper shelters, there is no utility system, no toilets, no water pipe system, no health center, and no possibility to find jobs.

“Amnesty International asked also for clarification about the development on that total region of 133 hectares, and asked the Khmer authorities to specify clearly the date when the inhabitants are required to remove their houses, and to guarantee the citizens their right to return to the Boeng Kak region after the time of their temporary relocation is over.

“Furthermore, Amnesty International appealed on the Cambodian government to adhere to its obligations under international human rights treaties, which do not allow forced evictions, because they will lead to human rights violations.

“According to information from the authorities, so far 30 more families have removed their houses from the Boeng Kak region, and there are only about 40 families remaining. Thus, the delay until 28 August 2009 might make more families to agree to remove their houses. The authorities expect that it will be like the case of the inhabitants of 78 Group, where there was a delay until all citizens agreed to remove their houses.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #474, 22.8.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 22 August 2009

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