ROUGHLY 300 Boeung Kak lakeside residents facing eviction due to the controversial development of the site ended a week of protests at “Freedom Park” yesterday by releasing 99 swallows and 99 balloons representing freedom, peace and the 99-year City Hall lease that initiated the project.
Activists role-played company representatives as well as residents of the seven villages facing eviction, rehearsing the claims of both sides in a traditional Khmer game, teanh proat.
In this version, at least, the Boeung Kak lake residents emerged triumphant.
Activists called on local firm Shukaku to stop pumping sand into the lake, and warned the Chinese firm Erdos Hong Jun Property Development Co, which is developing the lake in a joint venture with Shukaku, that they would continue to boycott Chinese products if they fail to offer a proper settlement. Residents also burned two pictures representing the companies.
Tol Srey Pov, a community representative, called on people across the country to support their protest against evictions.
“Today, Shukaku Inc and the Chinese company abused my home and that of others right in our community,” she said.
“Tomorrow, other companies will encroach on your homes in your community.”
In 2007, the municipality granted Shukaku a 99-year lease to develop the area. In November last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a letter approving the involvement of the Chinese firm. Rights groups say more than 4,000 families will be displaced.