Early on the morning of December 27, 32 families living in Tuol Sangkae commune in
Phnom Penh's Russei Keo district awoke to find a squadron of bulldozers ready to
demolish their homes.
This latest of forced evictions by Phnom Penh City is to make way for the expansion
of Road 1928 that runs through the middle of Russei Keo to the Poung Peay area.
Locals say the road expansion was requested by a Korean-owned construction company,
World City, which they say has bought filled-in land once part of Poung Peay Lake
for development. City Hall authorized a 30-meter widening.
Seven-and-a-half meters will be taken from one side of the road, and 22.5 meters
from the other. This leaves 32 families homeless, most of whom say they have lived
in the area for more than 20 years.
"We protest to the government to pay us for our land and our houses so we can
afford to move them to another place," said Vot Thin. "But so far they
have not paid us anything."
According to Thin, his family of 13 has shared the same home since 1987. On December
27, he watched the demolition team circle his home prior to destruction.
Villagers said Klaing Huot, Russei Keo district governor, issued a final notice on
"If the area specified is not cleared within 10 days, City Hall will come to
break it down and will not be responsible for any damage to personal belongings,"
read a copy of the notice obtained by the Post.
Unlike recent evictions in the Tonle Bassac, the villagers of Tuol Sangkae did not
have representatives from human rights NGOs.
"We didn't receive any calls for intervention or help; in the past CLEC used
to visit the area, but at the time it wasn't a hot issue for City Hall to evict them,"
said Thy Bunthoeun, public relations and media officer for the Community Legal Education
Center. "Now we have the information and we will investigate it."