Phork Dorn, The Cambodia Daily, March. 19 2012
Representatives of villagers from the Boeung Kak lakeside claimed yesterday that Phnom Penh Municipal authorities were delaying negotiations over a proposal for on-site resettlement as part of a strategy to evict villagers. Boeung Kak residents have been in talks with municipal authorities since an original proposal requesting that 15 hectares of the 133-hectare project be set aside for on-site relocation housing was rejected by municipal governor Kep Chuktema in April. Tep Vanny, a representative of Boeung Kak villagers, said yesterday that one family had received two eviction notices on Wednesday, signed by a member of the Boeung Kak Development Committee, stating that “legal action will be taken” if they do not meet a seven-day eviction deadline.
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Residents facing eviction in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake development sent a request to the city on Thursday asking for the establishment of a commission to measure plots of land they think could solve the problem. The request comes amid increased pressure on authorities to resolve a standoff between a local developer and thousands of impoverished residents who refuse to make way for an extensive commercial and residential property project. Resident representative Tep Vanny told VOA Khmer on Friday the community had submitted a request asking for city authorities and the Ministry of Land Management’s cadastre office to measure plots of land under a new compensation plan. Residents have reduced their demands for 15 hectares of land, set aside from the 133-hectare development, down to 10 hectares, said Ly Srey Mom, another village representative. Under that scheme, 744 plots of land would be established for 1,500 families, she said.
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Om Yentieng, head of the Anticorruption Unit and the government’s human rights committee, claimed this week that no human rights violations were committed during a violent police crackdown against protestors from the Boeung Kak lakeside outside the Phnom Penh City Hall last month. The April 21 protest erupted into violence when more than 100 police wielding electric batons attacked roughly 100 villagers and arrested 11 people, including two children. Speaking on the sidelines of a two-day land rights conference in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Om Yentieng said villagers could file a criminal complaint if they so chose, but that the police actions did not constitute a human rights violation. “[Villagers] asked City Hall about this many times, but I do not view this as a human rights violation,” he said. “Which article says that the actions of authorities were wrong?” he said, referring to Cambodia’s penal code. Rights groups say more than 4,000 families will ultimately be evicted from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake area to make way for a real estate development run by a Chinese firm and ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin. Boeung Kak residents have staged frequent protests in the capital since the concession was awarded in 2007.Tep Vanny, a Boeung Kak representative, said Om Yentieng’s comments reflected the government’s indifference to her community’s plight. “Om Yentieng does not recognize the truth, takes no responsibility, disguises the facts and tries to confuse democracy,” she said. Ouch Leng, head of the land programme at local rights group Adhoc, said Om Yentieng’s comments demonstrated his willingness to condone human rights violations committed by government officials. “The villagers protested to find a non-violent resolution, but authorities used violence against them,” Ouch Leng said. Roughly 150,000 Phnom Penh residents, or about 9.5 percent of the capital’s current population, have been displaced since 1990, according to figures released yesterday by housing NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut. A total of 1,510 families in Phnom Penh were displaced by forced evictions and planned relocations last year, STT said. Article published by the Phnom Penh Post.
HRTF Press Release
Beating and Detention of eleven Boeung Kak lake villagers and Children
April 21, 2011
The Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF) strongly condemns the violence used earlier today against peaceful BoeungKak lake protesters and the arrest of 11 villagers – including young children – in front of the Phnom Penh municipal cabinet. At around 8:30AM, about 100 villagers from the BoeungKak lake gathered in front of the Phnom Penh municipal cabinet to attempt once again to meet authorities to discuss two issues: i) to stop the lake filling causing flooding in the area, and ii) to stop evictions until authorities enter into negotiations with the villagers and reach an agreement with the affected residents.As the peaceful protest unfolded, about 80 armed anti-riot police and about 30 military police officers came in and circled the villagers. As the peaceful protest unfolded, about 80 armed anti-riot police and about 30 military police officers came in and circled the villagers. At 9:30 AM, a group of Phnom Penh municipal and Daun Penh district authorities, led by Phnom Penh Municipal Cabinet Deputy Chief KeutChhay andDaun Penh district governor SokSambath, came out to ask for the villagers to return home, ignoring the villagers’ requests for discussion. The villagers refused to leave and repeated their demands for their grievances to be heard. Shortly after, the police brought in their van and arrested an initial group of six villagers, including 11-year-old and 12-year-old boys. The remaining community members were beaten and shocked by anti-riot police using electric batons as they attempted to prevent the arrests. Following the initial clash, the anti-riot police grabbed and arrested five more female villagers one by one and used more violence against the protesters to clear the area. By the end of the incident, at least three women had fallen unconscious due to electric shocks. One elderly woman, NgetChhon was bleeding from a head injury, another woman, TepVanny had a broken finger, and several more were left bruised. Over the last two months, villagers from BoeungKaklake have staged a series of peaceful protests demanding the authorities listen to their problems and discuss the ongoing land grabbing by the Shukakucompany, owned by CPP Senator Lao Mong Kim. To this day, however, authorities have failed to resolve the increasingly tense situation surrounding the land grab. Instead, they are using delay tactics, empty promises and have repeatedly used violence to disperse the villagers. HRTF calls for the leading authority figures that ordered and oversaw this morning’s violence against peaceful protesters to be suspended and investigated. Additionally, HRTF strongly urges the government and the Phnom Penh authorities to cease its intimidation campaign and begin an honest dialogue with the BoeungKak lake residents in order to resolve the ongoing land conflict. Beating the villagers and ignoring their voices won’t make the problems go away.
Mr. SiaPhearum, Secretariat Director, HRTF: 012 852 325
Mr. Am Sam Ath, LICADHO Monitoring Supervisor, 012 327 770
to view the official press release from HRTF, click here.
Phnom Penh officials have agreed to meet with representatives of Boeung Kak residents today, following the release of 11 villagers who were beaten and arrested on Thursday during a protest against their impending eviction. About 100 villagers were outside Phnom Penh City Hall when police violently broke up the protest, reportedly beating demonstrators with electric batons and taking away villagers as young as 11. Daun Penh District Governor Sok Sambath said on Friday that villagers had thrown stones and bottles of urine at police. “We did not want to use violence because we are also Khmer, but they disrupted order,” he said, adding that Municipal Deputy Governor Nuon Sameth would meet with villagers today. Ly Mom, a representative of Boeung Kak residents, said on Friday that she and eight other villagers were forced to plead guilty to using violence in exchange for their release. She added that the upcoming meeting was arranged by district officials and unlikely to achieve a favorable result for villagers because decisions about the project were made at municipal level. Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth declined to comment on Friday. Rights groups say more than 4,000 families will ultimately be displaced by a 133-hectare real estate development at Boeung Kak, a joint venture project between a Chinese firm and a company owned by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin. Residents have been offered on-site relocation, housing in Dangkor district and two million riel (US$495), or cash payments of $8,500. Many believe this is far below the market value of their homes. This article was published by the Phnom Penh Post.
Police beat and arrested villagers including elderly women and children as young as 11 yesterday as they protested their impending eviction from land surrounding the capital’s Boeung Kak lake, an incident observers called a “new low” in the lakeside debacle. The violence came one day after a meeting with government officials in which donors flagged land rights and resettlement as among the Kingdom’s biggest development challenges. About 100 villagers gathered yesterday morning in front of City Hall, calling for a moratorium on the filling of the lake and new talks on resettlement and compensation plans. More than 100 local and military police subsequently surrounded the gathering as the villagers blocked Monivong Boulevard in Daun Penh district. To read the rest of the article form the Phnom Penh Post, click here.
Residents of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake development were violently dispersed by riot police outside City Hall Thursday, marking an escalation in their prolonged protest against eviction. At least 11 demonstrators were arrested and four were injured in police beatings, as around 100 residents gathered to demand a meeting with city officials over their impending eviction from a development site. More than 100 riot police stormed into the gathered crowd on Thursday morning, hitting protesters with batons and shocking them, while arresting nine women and two underage boys. To continue reading the article from VOA, click here.
Cambodian police clashed on Thursday with protesters who have refused to make way for a Chinese-Cambodian housing project in the country’s capital. Police armed with riot shields, wooden sticks and batons tried to disperse about 100 people demonstrating in front of city hall against plans by authorities to evict 1,500 families from areas around Boeng Kak Lake. To read the rest of the article written by Reuters, click here.
At protests staged by the embattled residents of the Boeung Kak lakeside against their impending eviction, Loun Savath cuts a distinctive figure. The 31-year-old is a tall man with a round face and a wide smile, but more than anything else, it is his orange robes that stand out from the crowd. The venerable monk has served primarily as an observer of the protests, yet this limited role has been enough to draw harassment from local authorities and religious officials. Police, he says, have threatened him with arrest on multiple occasions, and last month, after being followed back to his home at the capital’s Wat Ounalom by a police vehicle, he fled Phnom Penh for fear of arrest. He will not be out of action for long, however. To continue reading this article published by the Phnom Penh Post, click here.