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Villagers pen letter to UN

Residents facing eviction from the Boeung Kak lakeside have accused the international community of failing to hold the Cambodian government to account for rights abuses and have requested the intervention of a United Nations envoy.

In a letter sent yesterday to Surya Subedi, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, the villagers said donor countries have taken “no steps to punish this [Cambodian] Government”.

“On behalf of the victims who are affected by forced eviction and housing rights violation, I would like to request your attention to raise this serious concern to the government or the UN,” said the letter, which was signed by community representatives Tep Vanny and Ly Mom.

Subedi, who is on an official visit to the Kingdom this week, said yesterday that he would continue to raise the plight of Boeung Kak residents in his meetings with government officials. “I am doing all I can to help them,” he said. “Boeung Kak and a number of other sites have been quite high on my agenda … [with] senior members of the government.”

The violence used against Boeung Kak residents at a demonstration on April 21 was “regrettable”, he added.

“I hope the [municipal] governor will go as far as possible to make sure that in the future no violence is used against peaceful demonstrators.”

Ly Mom said residents want Subedi to ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to have city officials halt the eviction and “speed up” a resolution to the dispute.

On Friday, residents rejected a proposal for on-site relocation in 7x7.5-metre flats in six-story buildings that was introduced by City Hall and Shukaku Inc, a company run by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin that is developing the 133-hectare site with Chinese developer Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co. Villagers submitted a request to City Hall in April for 4x16-metre houses for residents with “small” plots of land and
two or more such houses for residents with “large” plots.

Residents agreed yesterday to delay resubmission of their proposal to City Hall until next Monday because of disagreements between villagers about the suggested allocation of land, Tep Vanny said. Koet Chhe, deputy chief of administration at Phnom Penh Municipal Hall, declined to comment.

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