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Community fights back with song

Community fights back with song

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Under a threat of forced eviction, residents of Dey Krahorm village compose a protest song to draw public attention to the fear and sense of injustice they’re living with every day

HENG CHIVOAN

Villagers at Dey Krahorm live under an ongoing threat of forced eviction.

THE embattled Dey Krahorm community, which has been living under threat of eviction for over two years, has created a pop song in an attempt to draw attention to their plight.

"Why do rich people who have money, power, cars, land and villas... still want land from poor villager like us?" the song, which is called Tears of Dey Krahorm Villagers, asks. 

The song was written earlier this year by community resident So Sosatya, 28, who said she decided to broadcast it after receiving encouragement from the Cambodian rights group Licadho.

"We have been living in fear," said So Sosatya, who explained the song was the result of her desire to express the villagers' voices in a new way.

"We want the world to know about our plight. Please help us remain at our land," she said. 

The song describes the fear the villagers have experienced as a result of their homes being claimed by another, and community members being threatened by developers.

During the recent election campaign period, the situation at Dey Krahorm was quiet while the government and local authorities were busy preparing the election, but Am Sam Ath, monitoring supervisor for human rights group Licadho, said "we are concerned that [after the election] they will be evicted."

Am Sam Ath said Licadho  will ask So Sosatya to record her song on CD and help her to get it on air.

Ouch Chantha, 51, a villager said that just days after the July 27 election, she received an offer to buy her four plots of land from developer 7NG's  chairman Srey Sothea for US$30,000.

"We refused that money. We could not afford to buy a new house in the city center like this," she said. "We will resist until the end."

Srey Sothea claimed earlier this week that there are now only around 80 families at Dey Krahorm.

"Villagers are leaving one by one," he said. "People have lived in the area as squatters in a very polluted environment."

Mann Chhoeun, deputy governor in charge of poverty reduction for Phnom Penh Municipality, said that "there will be a plan to do something with the community after the election."

"The majority of families have left already," he said, adding that "the remains should follow the majority."

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