Community activist Chan Vichet recognised for defending land rights in urban slums where residents have fought private development
AN international land rights group on Saturday nominated Cambodian activist Chan Vichet for his work in Phnom Penh's disputed Dey Krahorm community, where few residents remain after a series of evictions.
Chan Vichet is the first Cambodian to be nominated for the Housing Rights Defender Award from the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions . This year's winner will be announced later this month.
"Vichet's nomination recognizes his outstanding leadership in the struggle of the Dey Krahorm community against forced eviction since 2005 - a struggle which has so far succeeded the odds," said Dan Nicholson, the group's head coordinator for the Asia-Pacific region, in a press statement.
"We have seen in recent times that baseless criminal charges, and threats of criminal charges, are used against community leaders and NGO workers in Cambodia in an attempt by authorities to stop them from campaigning to defend their rights," he added.
Chan Vichet has been accused by authorities of falsifying documents and inciting unrest.
Chan Vichet said the nomination would give residents "the confidence to continue to struggle for their housing rights ... and encourage other communities to follow our example and stand up for their rights."
He denied the criminal charges brought against him, saying police used them to "frighten, threaten and discourage" him.
"What we want is for the company to pay a fair-market price for our homes so that we can afford to buy new homes," he said.