Evictees from around Cambodia assemble at Dey Krahorm community on International Women’s Day to address land rights of women and children
Photo by: SAM RITH
Ex-residents of the former Dey Krahorm community gather at the central Phnom Penh site on Sunday.
MORE than 100 people evicted from Phnom Penh's Dey Krahorm community and others who are facing eviction elsewhere gathered with provincial land activists and NGO workers Sunday to celebrate International Women's Day.
The ceremony was held near the site of a "sacred ... Banyan tree" at Dey Krahorm where villagers once prayed and made offering to the gods before the tree was knocked down during the eviction. On Sunday, balloons were released to draw attention to the plight of the women and children victims of land-grabbing.
Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said it was a symbolic day to consider the union between all women who fight for their rights.
"Today is an example that, whatever you do, it's all interlinked, whether you work on human rights, unions, land rights...we are all affected by the lack of implementation of law, and all have the ability to assemble to express our concern."
"[Evictions] are very serious. We've been getting calls from [people] in Phnom Penh and the provinces almost daily about people being threatened with eviction or evicted," she added.
Sadly, there is nothing special about this day for many cambodian women...
Orn Channa, one of the evicted Dey Krahorm villagers, told the Post that her family found it difficult to live at the relocation site, Damnak Trayeung, as there were no schools available for her two children to continue their education and no water, electricity, health care centres or employment opportunities.
"It is very difficult to live there," she said. "[Developer 7NG] transported us to live in the rice fields where there is nothing," she added.
She said her husband had become a motorbike taxi driver but did not earn enough money for her children's transportation costs to school in Phnom Penh. She said that per day, these costs were around 20,000 riel.
Long Khom, 45, another former Dey Krahorm villager, said her family's living standards had also significantly worsened after moving to the new site. She told the Post she had nothing left, not even a mosquito net, as all of her assets were destroyed by 7NG workers during the eviction.
"Sadly, there is nothing special about this day [International Women's Day] for many Cambodian women ... because they have been evicted from their homes or are living in fear of eviction. It is just another day of hardship and suffering," said Licadho President Kek Galabru, in a press release issued Sunday.
Orn Chhanna called on the United Nations to help preserve the rights of evicted villagers.
"I would like organisations ... to help people who are evicted from communities such as Dey Krahorm to have better lives," she said.
Lim Sambo, a representative of neighbouring Group 78 community, which lives under threat of eviction, said he and others on the land welcomed any government proposal for development, but insisted that fair compensation is given to those who are impacted.
"We need negotiation, not violent evicting ... the government must offer proper compensation to people before handing out any plot of land to a private company.... The government must also have its own reserved budget to offer affected people," he said.
Sy Define, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, acknowledged that moving people far away from the city affected women and children who needed to travel to the city. However, she said the government will help build schools near relocation sites.