Eight residents charged with intentional violence and obstructing public officials following their arrest during a violent eviction at Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community this week have been sent to the capital’s Prey Sar prison, the residents’ lawyer said yesterday.
Chin Lida, a lawyer with rights group Licadho, told the Post that he had asked the court for his clients to be released. Deputy municipal court prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth, who questioned the residents, declined to comment.
The Post was unable to confirm by deadline whether two residents reportedly arrested late on Wednesday were being detained by authorities.
On Tuesday, more than 200 homes were demolished by over 100 police, military police, guards and workers hired by private developer Phan Imex.
Armed police fired tear gas at residents as they threw bricks and debris to prevent forces from entering the community. At least 10 people were injured.
In 2003, Phan Imex agreed to build 10 buildings on two hectares of land for 1,776 families, in exchange for development rights to 2.6 hectares. The company constructed eight buildings before suspending construction 2010, leaving almost 400 families without housing.
Families moved to resettlement sites in Tuol Sambo village in Phnom Penh’s outskirts and Phnom Bat village in Kandal province following the eviction, where some families had already relocated, told the Post they were living in tents and had received money from the company ranging from US$25 to $100 and 30 kilograms of rice.
“[The company] has not provided the land for us yet because they just bulldozed the land [on Wednesday],” 24-year-old evictee Er Srey Pov said from Phnom Bat village.
Phan Imex representative Phon Moy claimed yesterday that 20 families had moved to Tuol Sambo and 85 families to Phnom Bat, a figure that contrasted with previous company estimates. Phan Imex owner Suy Sophan could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, more than 60 residents submitted petitions to the US, French and British embassies yesterday, requesting intervention.
US Embassy spokesman Sean MacIntosh said via email that the outcomes of confrontations at Borei Keila were “unfortunate”.
“The United States remains concerned about the potential for unresolved land disputes that may lead to instability in Cambodia,” he said.