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Villagers defy ban on repairs

Villagers defy ban on repairs

111229_04
A Boeung Kak lake resident shouts at security guards after a group of guards, police and local officials warned residents to stop rebuilding their homes yesterday.

More than 100 Boeung Kak residents protested yesterday against a group of about 20 Daun Penh district police officials who enforced a ban on residents making repairs to their houses.

Slesh Mosa, 47, a resident of Daun Penh district’s Srash Chork commune, said he had decided to repair and partly rebuild his 20-square-metre house because it was very old and not fit to live in, but had met with swift opposition from authorities.

“The authorities, led by deputy district governor Sok Penhvuth, stopped me,” he said.

“They wanted to take my equipment, such as a saw, a hammer, an axe and nails.”

The large crowd of protesters had prevented police confiscating the tools, Slesh Mosa said.

Slesh Mosa said he had asked permission to repair and rebuild parts of his house in 2007, but the government had not allowed it because it was the part of the Boeung Kak area earmarked for development.

“They said I had repaired my house without asking permission,” he said.

“But the government has given 12.44 hectares of land for the villagers who agreed to develop at the site, so right now I can repair my house.”

After 100 residents heard of the ban and flocked to Slesh Mosa’s house to protest, district governor Sok Penhvuth led police from the site, departing with a warning that he would return if residents defied the ban. “If you don’t listen to me . . . I will lead my officials to come here again,” were the words he had used, Slesh Mosa said.

After authorities left, Slesh Mosa resumed his work, saying he was not scared of the possibility of police returning to arrest him and warned authorities to leave his house alone.

“I will commit suicide by cutting my neck in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall if the authorities destroy my house,” he said.

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