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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - City Hall fast-tracks Russei Keo evictions

City Hall fast-tracks Russei Keo evictions

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

December 14.

"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."

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