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Land protest draws students

Land protest draws students

090410_03.jpg
090410_03.jpg

Some 20 youths from Lycee Francais Rene Descartes join residents of community near the intl school to voice discontent over what they say are forced evictions.

Photo by:

HENG CHIVOAN

A passerby stops in front of the Lycee Francais Rene Descartes during the protest on Thursday. 

ABOUT 25 students from the Lycee Francais Rene Descartes joined with 20 residents facing eviction in a protest outside the international school.

Together, they demanded that the French embassy respect the rights of the residents - some of whom have been on the land for 30 years, students said.

Raimondo Pietet, a student and protest organiser, said that people were being forced out with insufficient compensation and would be unable to construct new homes.

"The government has never released a paper to evict people. They just use rumours and fear to evict the community," he added.

"Today we are distributing information so that everyone in the lycee can know about the situation happening in the building right here," he said.  

Sok Chenda, 54, who has lived on the location since 1979, said, "I am really proud of the French students. They are very young, but they know what is right and wrong."

Another resident, Khil Seur, 56, said that the local residents had become part of the school community and that is what galvanised the student protesters.

"The students joined the protest because they know that it is an injustice to evict us. Some of them have studied here since they were children, and they always saw us."

Sok Penh Vuth, the deputy director of Daun Penh district and the official that ordered a fence blocking residents from their old houses, dismissed the protests, saying the students were too young.

"The students that protested this morning are too young, about 15 years old. They do not understand much about this area, and they misunderstand that we are forcing residents to leave," he said

The president of the school's parent association said the French embassy was not responsible for the eviction methods undertaken by the Cambodian authorities.

Evicted residents are to move to Thnot Chrum village, Boeung Tumpum commune, which many of the residents from near the international school say is constantly flooded.

A spokesperson at the French embassy was unavailable for comment on Thursday because  she was travelling abroad.

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