Residents press concerns about conditions at relocation site
AROUND 200 former residents of the Dey Krahorm community gathered Sunday to mark the one-year anniversary of their violent eviction from the site in Chamkarmon’s Tonle Bassac commune and to raise new concerns about conditions at relocation sites on the capital’s outskirts.
The residents offered food to monks at Wat Svay Borphay before marching to their old community and attaching a poster of a community spirit house to the aluminium fence that now surrounds it.
“Today is a memorable day of unforgettable suffering, and we, the former residents of Dey Krahorm community, are gathering together here to recall the violent eviction,” read a statement issued at the ceremony.
The “Dey Krahorm people’s strength, sweat, tears and screaming will punish those bad people for their whole life”.
Early on January 24, 2009, police and construction workers employed by property developer 7NG Group forced out Dey Krahorm’s residents and levelled their homes. Residents and housing rights groups said 144 families were displaced.
Residents who were forced out said they would not forget the “cruel” eviction, and they raised concerns about the replacement housing offered to residents at Damnak Trayeung village in Dangkor district, saying the site – 20 kilometres from the city centre – is far from job opportunities.
“The authorities are not fighting poverty – they create more poverty because we lost our jobs and we have no money to support our living,” said Lor Siha, a resident who received a home at Damnak Trayeung.
One rights activist said the apartments at the site were no more than “garages” lacking access to water, toilets, schools and health care.
“It’s good to make development, but development should provide positive results to the maximum amount of people,” said Kek Pung, president of the rights group Licadho. “Here, when you talk about development, it’s only a small amount of people who benefit.”
Eang Vuthy, a legal adviser for the rights group Bridges Across Borders, added that 7NG had so far done nothing with the Dey Krahorm land aside from building a company showroom on the site.
“After the eviction, they said they were going to build a commercial area that is going to benefit a lot of people, but you can see they don’t really do anything.… They want to sell the land at a higher price,” he said.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said the city has worked closely with the evictees and had installed water at the relocation site.
“We are thinking a lot about them and now we are afraid that after they got the land, they sold it to businessmen and are still landless,” he said.
Srey Chanthou, 7NG’s managing director, could not be reached on Sunday.