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Siem Reap officials clear ‘squatters’ off land

SIEM REAP PROVINCE
MORE than 100 demolition workers and armed officials destroyed makeshift homes on 61 plots of land in Siem Reap’s Slakram commune on Thursday, accusing their occupants of living on land that belongs to the Apsara Authority.

Oeun Pov, deputy governor of Siem Reap city, said that workers were sent to the site, which sits in front of the Apsara Authority’s headquarters in Chong Kaosou village, to remove 97 squatters who remained on the land despite being told to vacate their houses before the Khmer New Year.

“We just demolished houses and fences on 61 plots of land where the people are living now, and officials will address the issue of finding other homes in which the owners can live later on,” he said.

He added that the occupants had been offered no compensation because city officials had repeatedly told them they could not settle on the land.

Khuth Sath, 37, whose home was levelled on Thursday, said that villagers planned to protest at government officials’ offices to demand compensation. “I have lived here since 2002. I need some compensation,” he said. “We cannot be left with bare hands.”

A man living nearby, who asked not to be named, said that although his home is still standing, he has been told by officials that it will be demolished in the next phase of the eviction.

“I do not have money. If they evict us, I may have no money to buy tarpaulin to cover my children,” he said.

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