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Borei Keila suit filed

Land rights activists stand near the Municipal Court in Phnom Penh
Land rights activists stand near the Municipal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday in a show of support for people who were injured during evictions at Borei Keila in February. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Borei Keila suit filed

Seven people from the capital’s Borei Keila community allegedly injured by baton-wielding security forces last month, a pregnant woman among them, filed a lawsuit against Prampi Makara district authorities yesterday.

The seven were among a group of dozens of families violently removed from a building on February 14 after occupying it without permission two days earlier, claiming that authorities were marking out smaller parcels of land than what they had promised them.

According to Has Sokchenda, 35, one of those claiming injuries, all seven plaintiffs filed lawsuits against district governor Som Sovann, deputy governor Lem Sophea and director of security forces Prak Hak, as well as the more than 30 security guards that took part in the eviction.

Standing among 50 supporters from the Borei Keila community rallying outside Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court yesterday, Sokchenda, now eight months’ pregnant, described how soldiers kicked her stomach and knocked her unconscious during the eviction.

“I think that the crackdown that day was set up to intentionally kill me and my [unborn] baby,” she said.

Choa Sophea, 29, another plaintiff, said yesterday that security forces had struck her in the face, then beat her unconscious while she had been feeding her newborn baby.

This is not the first time Borei Keila residents have filed lawsuits against district authorities, said governor Sovann yesterday.

“It’s the people’s right and the court’s responsibility to work on the people’s lawsuit, but we are ready to shed light on this case in court,” Sovann said.

Last month, after blocking off the road into Borei Keila at about 7am, helmeted military police and district security guards stormed the site, where many of those violently evicted in 2012 continue to live in tents among piles of garbage.

After the clash, a fence was erected in front of Building 9, owned by developer Phan Imex, the company that failed to honour a contract signed in 2003 to construct 10 buildings to house displaced villagers.

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