Authorities in Siem Reap province yesterday began tearing down villagers’ homes they say are illegally constructed inside the Angkor Archaeological Park’s protected zones.
Eight families from several districts watched as teams from the Apsara Authority, which manages the historical site, and provincial forces dismantled their homes, with hundreds more demolitions expected to follow in the coming weeks.
One resident, Sor Saron, whose home in Nokor Thom commune’s Rohal village was among those torn down, said he was heartbroken.
“The state offered us this plot of land, about 1 kilometre from the Angkor area in 1989, but now they say it is in the Angkor area and construction is prohibited,” he said, noting nearby hotels remained untouched.
“I just built my house to live, and it’s not illegal. If you pull down my house, then please kill me as well since there is nothing for me to continue living for.”
Long Kosal, director of the Authority’s Information Department, said residents were warned on August 1 that the 520 homes constructed within the two protection zones – which were established to prevent construction damaging Angkorian temples in the area – would be dismantled.
“Some building owners received the information and agreed to pull down their house voluntarily,” he said, adding the main areas of “illegal construction” were in Prasat Bakong district, Angkor Thom district and Siem Reap town.