In the News: Lake Flooding Forces ‘Volunteer’ Exodus

From Voice of America, October 27th: It is right to say either: we volunteered or were forced, because the company dredged to flood us,” she said. “We must leave. How can we stay? Speaking frankly they’re driving us away.

More from the story:

Ny Chakrya, chief of the monitoring section for the rights group Adhoc, said the displacement was similar to those along the Tonle Bassac, except residents here were being forced out by floodwater and not gunpoint.

“It is not a principle of volunteering,” he said. “Volunteer removal means a negotiation in which neither side was put under pressure of any kind. Once one side acted to put another side aside; with no choice, it becomes a non-voluntary agreement. If it was to be a voluntary agreement from the people, [authorities] should not have created an impact on the daily living conditions of the people.”

Resident Neth Sophana and her family said they were being forced to leave under a “volunteer principle” espoused by Phnom Penh authorities and Shukaku.

“It is right to say either: we volunteered or were forced, because the company dredged to flood us,” she said. “We must leave. How can we stay? Speaking frankly they’re driving us away.”

Despite floodwater creeping into her house, forcing her to build small wooden walkways through the living room, resident Houth Srin said she would wait for a better offer. Borei Santepheap 2 was too far from services, she said, and the itchy feet caused by the dirty water was a small price to pay to hold out.

Meanwhile, she said, people who owned smaller houses were being separated from those with large houses by the city’s buyout plans. Those with small houses could take the money, but those with larger houses, like hers, would wait. That meant a unity of voice against the displacement was divided, she said.

Click here for the full story.

Click here for the story in Khmer audio.

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