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Excavation sparks protest

Excavation sparks protest

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Residents of the Boeung Trabek lake area hold up portraits of Prime Minister Hun Sen during a protest against the digging of a reservoir by local authorities yesterday.

VILLAGERS on the outskirts of Phnom Penh yesterday protested against local authorities they claim are destroying their aquaculture crops in order to build a reservoir that is meant to  prevent future flooding in Phnom Penh.

Nearly 30 villagers representing 184 families living near Boeung Trabek, in Chamkarmon district, gathered at the lake to express their concern and stop earth moving machines.

En Sokhum, 56, a representative of the villagers, said that they were concerned when the digging continued despite the request by villagers to cease excavation until their complaint had been remedied.

He was also suspicious that even though the village was situated on state land, the poor would the evicted and the land would be provided to wealthy people in the future.

Ouch Leng, a land program officer for rights group Adhoc, said that though the villagers lived on state land “the state should compensate them properly because they have been living there for years”.      

Lo Yoy, Chamkarmon district governor, was unavailable for comment yesterday, but previously told The Post the reservoir was being built on vacant land and aquaculture crops could be replanted once the construction was completed.

On September 17, district authorities issued an eviction order for villagers residing illegally on state land to dismantle their homes within 10 days.  The order further stipulated the authorities would take action if the request was ignored and prosecute villagers attempting to stop the construction.  

Last month City Hall issued a separate order that the land set aside for the Boeung Trabek reservoir was not to be used for housing or any other purposes.

The order reiterated earlier warnings that those trespassing on state land would be taken to court.

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