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Residents warn of protest

Residents warn of protest

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Residents threatened with eviction from the Boeung Kak lake area protest outside City Hall in Phnom Penh last Friday.

Resident of the Boeung Kak lakeside said yesterday that they would organise protests if a meeting scheduled for today with Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema did not achieve a resolution to their alternative development plan for families threatened with eviction.

City Hall on Monday issued a letter confirming the meeting between Kep Chuktema and five villager representatives to discuss a request for the allocation of 15 hectares of land for villagers at the site of a commercial and residential development project on the Boeung Kak lakeside.

Huot Muth Dy, a resident of Village 20 in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, said that she hopes the meeting will end in a victory for potentially displaced villagers.

“I hope that the result of the discussions will be positive and bring an end to the dispute between villagers and authorities and Shukaku Inc,” said Huot Muth Dy.

Nop Phearom, a resident of Village 1, said that the representatives should reject any offer from authorities that does not support villagers’ requests.

“If it is negative, we will make a stronger protest than before,” said Nop Phearom. “To reach this step, we have agreed not to accept financial compensation or any other developments in other places.”

More than 100 lakeside villagers had prepared on Sunday to assemble at City Hall for a meeting with Kep Chuktema before being informed by Daun Penh District Deputy Governor Sok Penhvuth that the meeting had been delayed until today.

Villagers demanded written confirmation from officials that the meeting would  in fact take place. They then received the letter on Monday from City Hall Administration Chief Ly Saveth.

In 2007, Kep Chuktema signed a 99-year lease for Shukaku Inc – a development firm owned by ruling party Senator Lao Meng Khin, and Chinese firm Erdos Hong Jun Property Development Co – to develop a US$79 million commercial and residential project on 133 hectares of land around Boeung Kak lake, which rights organisations estimate will lead to the eviction of at least 4,000 families.

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