Local authorities armed with axes and hammers on Saturday attempted to dismantle homes in the capital’s Russey Keo district to make way for a new road that they hope will ease traffic, according to villagers.
Residents of Boeung Chhouk village said that the district’s deputy governor, Chea Pisey, led around 20 police officers and security guards to the area and ordered them to thumbprint a letter stating that they were living there illegally.
When villagers refused, the authorities attempted to tear down their houses – which they claim are preventing the construction of a new road – but were blocked by the crowd.
One of the villagers, Khiev Pov, said the community was not opposed to the road construction but “needs compensation in [the form of] land, houses or money . . . to relocate to a new place since we don’t have land to live on anymore”.
Community representative Khiev Chenda said authorities “should have offered a solution beforehand since [the residents] have lived here for 20 years”.
Pisey insisted that the authorities were attempting to “negotiate peacefully”.