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Villagers face eviction again in Phnom Penh

Villagers face eviction again in Phnom Penh

Children mill about on a dirt path near shacks at the Andong relocation site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh last year. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Villagers evicted from the former Sambok Chab community in the capital’s Dangkor district in 2006 face eviction for the second time – this time without any compensation, evictees told the Post yesterday.

According to villager Heng Pheng Chun, 26, authorities in Por Sen Chey district have issued letters to 19 families in Kork Roka commune’s Andong village, informing them their houses must be torn down by October 3 to make way for a new road.

“In the letter, it said that if we have not torn down our homes by then, they will take action against us and will not be held responsible for any property loss,” he said, adding that he had relocated to Andong village as instructed by authorities.

“They have forced us out of one town already, so where am I supposed to go? There is no justice for poor people like me.”

The Phnom Penh municipal authority deployed police forces equipped with electric shock batons and shields to force 1,554 families from their homes in Sambok Chab in 2006.

Families were relocated to Andong village, about 25 kilometres from the city centre.

Resident Horm Hoy, 36, said villagers had been informed that their relocation site was meant to be temporary, but the officials had never offered replacement land as promised.

“So I will not tear down my home, because I don’t know where I will go,” he said. “Only if they compensate me will I agree.”

Sok Chham, village chief of Andong III, said his duty was only to bring the letter to villagers rather than to provide them a solution.

“I don’t know why these villagers will not receive compensation,” he said.

District Governor Kit Sopha, who signed the eviction letters, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said he felt for the families.

“If that happens, the victims will again be worse off,” he said. “How can they reduce poverty if they face the same thing again? How can their children get education and health care? It has a huge impact if they face eviction again and again.”

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]
With assistance from Shane Worrell