The trickle of departing Boeung Kak residents quickens to a flow
following the arrest of a man claimed to be the protest 'ringleader'
Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
A Boeung Kak resident peers out from her home as other dwellings are torn down.
MORE Boeung Kak villagers are packing up
and leaving the lakeside area, saying it is useless to stage further
demonstrations against their eviction following the reported arrest of
a local protest leader Wednesday.
Chan Theany, a resident from Boeung Kak's Village 4, said that she has
joined several protests with other villagers, but that it now seemed
"hopeless" to demand market price compensation for forfeited land in
the face of continuing municipal inaction.
"I will be evicted from here," she said. "I think our protest will only delay the time when we have to leave Boeung Kak."
She added that villagers started to feel frightened Wednesday morning
when a man was arrested in Village 4 after allegedly collecting
villagers' thumbprints that he planned to submit to the local commune
office demanding greater compensation for evictees.
"He has been accused of being the ringleader and inciting people to
protest," she said, adding that the people in Village 4 had started
leaving quietly one by one.
Nget Srey Leap, who rents a property in Village 4 and witnessed the
arrest, said that the man was detained at around 10:30am. "He was
escorted by a few policemen into a police car," she said. "Our renters
are mostly illiterate so we asked him, rather than the Boeung Kak
residents, to help write down the names of protesters."
She added that renters in her village planned to protest at the local
commune office and the office of Boeung Kak project developer Shukaku
Inc Wednesday afternoon to ask for better compensation for villagers
who have been renting houses in the Boeung Kak area since the 1980s.
"But now we are afraid of protesting," she said.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said Friday that "protest is
not a solution for the people" because the authorities had already
worked things out for people, offering cash compensation, replacement
housing in Damnak Trayoeng village in Dangkao district, or on-site
housing for those evicted from the lakeside. Mann Chhoeun added that
300 families had accepted replacement housing and nearly 90 had
accepted the cash.
I think our protest will only delay the time when we have to leave boeung kak.
Chhay Thirith, Srah Chak commune chief, said that the company is now
constructing more houses in Damnak Trayoeng for people who volunteer to
move to the area. "There are only 270 houses there. We are now building
more houses because we know more of the [residents] will agree to
accept houses," he said.