FAMILIES evicted from their homes in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district Thursday plan to protest what they say is inadequate compensation granted to them for their land by government officials.
On Thursday, government workers entered the villages of Bie and Duem Kor in Russey Keo’s Chroy Changvar commune and tore down the homes of more than 20 families to make way for a road being built in conjunction with a bridge that will connect Chroy Changvar peninsula to
central Phnom Penh.
The evictees are being housed in tents near their former homes in Chroy Changvar.
The group plans to hold a peaceful demonstration today in front of Chroy Changvar commune authorities, village representatives said, in order to demand better compensation offers.
“We need the government to provide a decent social land concession for us because the district authorities destroyed our homes,” 42-year-old Kong Choupon said Sunday as she sat under a tent in Chroy Changvar.
“We hope that Prime Minister Hun Sen will provide justice to us because we have been living here since 1980.”
Han Sithorn, 47, of Duem Kor village, said district authorities had not properly consulted with her and other villagers as they conceived of the development project.
“They used brutal force to destroy our homes because they considered us enemies of or obstacles to their development project,” she said. “We need justice.”
Koub Sleh, deputy governor of Russey Keo district, said government officials had already offered compensation to the affected villagers, and that those who were evicted Thursday had turned it down.
“We wanted to provide the families with US$500 and land concessions in Thnout Chrum village, Meanchey district, but they rejected this offer,” he said.
Renters vs owners
The deputy governor added that nine families have already accepted the government’s compensation offer.
“Now we are waiting for the rest of the evictees to come and meet with us again, but if they still do not agree to our offer, we cannot help them,” he said.
Those evicted on Thursday explained, however, that their case was different from that of the nine families who have taken the government compensation.
“Those nine families are only renters. They’re not the same as those of us who own our land and have been living here for 30 years,” said Muy Chea, 48. He added that he and other villagers who planned to protest were seeking land concessions of at least 10 metres by 15 metres, rather than the 4-metre-by-8-metre plots currently on offer from the government, and that they would file a complaint with Hun Sen if this request was denied.