Villagers threatened with forced evictions in two districts of the capital marched yesterday to government offices and protested against the impending loss of land.
Twenty Boeung Chhouk community members from the capital’s Russei Keo district filed petitions to the National Assembly, City Hall and Council of Ministers requesting Prime Minister Hun Sen intervene in their chronic land dispute.
Khieu Chenda, 42, a Boeung Chhouk representative, said the villagers were not against the development, but complained that there was no policy in place to compensate the displaced villagers.
“For many years, we were happy and fully supported the government’s development plan … but if a development clears our land and houses without any compensation like this, we have to disagree with it,” she said.
On November 14, Russei Keo District Governor Thuy Sokhorn gave villagers a 15-day deadline to dismantle their homes in preparation for the building of a number of roads intended to ease traffic in Phnom Penh.
“If the [land holders] do not respect the announcement, the district authorities will … take measures to demolish [the properties] without liability for any losses,” a statement handed to the villagers read.
Neup Ly, a program director at the Housing Rights Task Force, was concerned at the announcement and the prospect of the district building seven new roads through a poor residential area without offering compensation.
“I am well aware that this notice is intended to put pressure on the people of this impoverished community. We are concerned about the authorities using this device to drive people from residential areas without adequate compensation,” he said.
The villagers have opposed the development of the area since it was first announced in February 2009 as they have not been consulted on the plans or offered resettlement money, he added.
Villagers from Chroy Changvar peninsula, who were on Tuesday offered a new compensation deal from the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation, also delivered petitions yesterday.