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Group 78 residents ask PM for help

Group 78 residents ask PM for help

FORTY Group 78 residents protested Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema's eviction notice in front of Hun Sen's house on Monday, villagers said, and they said they are planning to continue protests today at the Municipal Court.

Lim Sambo, a Group 78 representative, said, "We gathered in front of the prime minister's house to ask him to revoke the Phnom Penh eviction letter that ... forces us to move out within 15 days of the release date."

Dated last Monday, the letter gives the community until May 5 to vacate their homes. Sixty-six of 86 families have refused City Hall's offers of compensation, according to Tam Hemny, a 29-year-old Group 78 resident.

"They accuse us of living on Suor Srun company land and on a public road, but we have been here since 1983, and the company just started investing in 2006," Lim Sambo said.

Tam Hemny said he welcomed a chance to sit down with the company and reach an agreement but that City Hall was preventing that from happening.

"We want to negotiate with the company owner. We don't want to meet with City Hall officers," he said.

But Huot Chhor, an assistant to Suor Srun Enterprises owner Suor Pheng, said it had given their share of the land to City Hall in 2007.

The April 20 eviction letter, however, implicated both the state and Suor Srun Enterprises: "City Hall is pleased to inform all residents who are living on the Suor Srun company land and on the public road that all levels of government have repeatedly requested they accept the compensation."

The letter continued: "Once again, and for the last time, City Hall requests that the remaining residents of these 66 houses accept our offer within 15 days. We ... disavow responsibility for any damage to the residents' properties."

Bunn Rachana, a monitor for the Housing Rights Task Force, said, "We want them [Group 78 residents] to have just negotiations, not only to be invited to City Hall but to be listened to."

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