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Evictees back on land

borei keila
About 45 former Borei Keila families have moved back to empty lots in the community, Monday, March 25, 2013. Photograph: Khouth Sophak Chakrya/Phnom Penh Post

Dozens of families at Borei Keila have moved back on to land they were evicted from last year, despite intimidation and threats of arrest by security forces employed by developer Phan Imex.

Earlier this month, security guards tore down the shelters of 12 families who had returned to the site.

Since then, despite more tents being pulled down by security forces, 45 families have settled on the site, saying they will not leave until the adequate housing they were promised on adjoining land is delivered.

Soy Sorn, one of the first to return, denied charges by Phan Imex owner Suy Sophan that she was occupying the site illegally.

“We will not leave until a solution is found. This was my place until the company destroyed our houses last year without compensation,” she said.

Villagers signed a deal with Phan Imex in 2004, agreeing to vacate the land in exchange for the construction of 10 high-rise apartment blocks for 1,776 families on an adjacent site.

Only eight blocks were constructed and the remaining families were violently evicted in January last year, leaving hundreds homeless or forced to live in remote relocation sites.

According to Sophan, she has since sold the land to prominent businessman Sy Kong Triv.

“We do not care about changing the land owner; we just know that Suy Sophan is the one who destroyed our houses and confiscated our land without compensation,” evictee Suo Em said.

Seng Kunthear, 36, who has lived at Borei Keila, in the capital’s Prampi Makara district, since 1995 said she has official documents that prove she is entitled to an apartment.

“I want the company and authorities to solve this problem by providing us with a proper shelter where I can earn a living and support my children’s education,” she said.

Suy Sophan could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at sophakchakrya.khouth@phnompenhpost.com

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