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Lakeside families say threats were made

SIX families living near Boeung Kak lake in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune said yesterday that their village chief and representatives of the development company Shukaku Inc had threatened to demolish their homes early next month, regardless of whether they accepted compensation offers of US$1,000.

“They told me that they will use the machinery to destroy my home if I refuse to accept only $1,000 in compensation,” said Pich Sorphear, a 28-year-old resident of Village 24. She added that the group had said the homes would be destroyed in early October.

Five families in Srah Chak agreed on Tuesday to move in exchange for $8,500.

Meanwhile, other residents said local authorities and Shukaku had donned masks in a bid to intimidate them into accepting the same amount of money and leaving their homes.

Pong Heng, the chief of Village 24, yesterday denied the villagers’ allegations. “I led the company’s representative to meet them,” he said. “I have no right to force [anyone to leave] or demolish anyone’s home.”

Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, who heads Shukaku, acquired rights to develop 133 hectares of the lakeside in 2007.
Housing rights groups say the project will displace about 4,000 families.

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