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Community along railway plans protest

Residents of a railway community in Tuol Kork district on Wednesday display a letter of protest thumbprinted by 26 families who intend to protest an impending eviction order scheduled to be enforced today.

TWENTY-SIX families residing along railway lines in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district said they plan to burn tyres to protest their impending eviction by local authorities.

Tuol Kork district hall had given the families until today to vacate their homes to make way for the renovation of a rail line that runs through their homes. On September 16, the district hall issued a statement that if residents do not leave the land by today, local officials would take administrative action to quell resistance.

Residents say the land was granted to them by Hun Sen in 2003, but officials have said it belongs to the government.

As compensation for the eviction, residents were offered the choice of an apartment at Damnak Trayeung in Chaom Chao commune and 20 million riels (US$4,812) cash, or $20,000 cash only.

One villager, Sok Im, said that he and other residents were seeking government intervention to postpone their eviction.

“We are waiting for a solution from the King and from the National Committee for Land Disputes,” he said.

Phang Saphorn, another villager, said that although she had been living along the railway tracks for six years, she would be prepared to leave if the compensation package were improved. “We do not object to the eviction, but we want compensation that reflects the current market price of our land,” she said.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said that 645 families from the community have already accepted the city compensation packages, and that the 26 holdouts ought to be happy with the solution. Nonetheless, he added, local officials planned to explore all avenues of negotiation with the villagers before resorting to a forced eviction.

“The authorities will look at every possibility to negotiate with the villagers before resorting to official measures to remove them,” he said.



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