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Call to end evictions

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An excavator destroys homes in Phnom Penh’s Dey Krahorm community in 2009. According to Licadho, about 250,000 Cambodians have been affected by land grabs and forced evictions since 2005.

Local residents delivered a petition with more than 1,200 signatures to Phnom Penh city hall yesterday, urging governor Kep Chuktema to make Phnom Penh an “eviction free” zone.

The petition, called “Declare the city as an eviction free zone,” calls for an immediate end to all evictions within city limits.

“Forced evictions are a violation of human rights,” the petition declares.

“More than 150,000 people have found themselves without a home and many of them have been forced or coerced into leaving. Others have been traumatised by having to watch their homes and belongings be destroyed by excavators,” it continues.

Tep Vanny, a representative of Boeung Kak lake villagers, said that people wanted development in the capital, but not the kind that involves forced evictions.

“We are hurt when our homes and belongings are destroyed,” he said.

Lim Sambo, a former resident of the Group 78 community in Chamkarmon district, said that the $8,000 he received to evacuate his home was not enough to buy land in city centre, so he was forced to relocate to the outskirts of town.

“My living conditions are worse. When I lived in Group 78, I sold porridge and Khmer noodles at my house, so I earned enough money to support my family,” he said. “Now I don’t earn enough from selling coconuts, because I have to pay for petrol to travel into the city everyday from my house in Dangkor district.

“I want the governor and our government to develop the city without forced evictions,” he added. “If you evict them, your people will be poorer and poorer. It’s not a good kind of development.”

Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema and his deputy, Nuon Someth, could not be reached by the Post for comment yesterday.

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