Phnom Penh officials have agreed to meet with representatives of Boeung Kak residents today, following the release of 11 villagers who were beaten and arrested on Thursday during a protest against their impending eviction.
About 100 villagers were outside Phnom Penh City Hall when police violently broke up the protest, reportedly beating demonstrators with electric batons and taking away villagers as young as 11.
Daun Penh District Governor Sok Sambath said on Friday that villagers had thrown stones and bottles of urine at police.
“We did not want to use violence because we are also Khmer, but they disrupted order,” he said, adding that Municipal Deputy Governor Nuon Sameth would meet with villagers today.
Ly Mom, a representative of Boeung Kak residents, said on Friday that she and eight other villagers were forced to plead guilty to using violence in exchange for their release.
She added that the upcoming meeting was arranged by district officials and unlikely to achieve a favourable result for villagers because decisions about the project were made at municipal level. Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth declined to comment on Friday.
Rights groups say more than 4,000 families will ultimately be displaced by a 133-hectare real estate development at Boeung Kak, a joint venture project between a Chinese firm and a company owned by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin.
Residents have been offered on-site relocation, housing in Dangkor district and two million riel (US$495), or cash payments of $8,500. Many believe this is far below the market value of their homes.