Oct. 22, 2010. Community representatives and local NGOs on Oct.21 issued an Urgent Action Appeal for the international community to intervene in the situation at Boeung Kak. Sent to foreign embassies and development partners in Phnom Penh and further afield, the appeal reads:
URGENT ACTION APPEAL
October 21, 2010
We, the undersigned community and civil society organization representatives, call upon the United Nations and all embassies and development agencies in Cambodia to urge the Cambodian Government to bring an end to the ongoing violation of human rights of residents in the Boeung Kak area of Phnom Penh.
Oct. 4 marked World Habitat Day under the slogan “Better City, Better Life”, yet in Phnom Penh Shukaku Inc. continues pumping sand and water into Boeung Kak lake and its surrounding villages, forcing residents to abandon their homes, while police persist in using violence against those peacefully protesting against the illegal development.
In the face of inaction by the authorities in response to numerous requests and petitions, residents of Boeung Kak gathered near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house on Oct. 1 to demand a halt to the pumping of sand and water into their homes. In what has become a standard response, the demonstrators right to peaceful assembly was denied, with police using excessive and unwarranted violence to disperse the crowd, including striking women in the chest with electric batons.
Five weeks earlier, an estimated 500 Boeung Kak residents were prevented from holding a private meeting to discuss their troubles. After local authorities shut down the meeting on Aug. 23, residents carried out a spontaneous demonstration, which was dispersed by hundreds of riot police.
The situation at Boeung Kak is unacceptable. Thousands of residents are being forced to leave as their homes are swamped with mud and water, while those who attempt to claim their rights face intimidation and physical violence. Despite requests and petitions, the Royal Government of Cambodia has not taken any observable steps to stop the ongoing abuse of its citizens’ land, housing and property rights. Indeed, on Oct. 18 several residents were served eviction orders demanding them to dismantle their homes within seven days or see them demolished by the authorities.
We call upon the international community to condemn this development aggression and implore the Royal Government of Cambodia to uphold its citizens’ rights, including women’s human rights, as enshrined in the Cambodian Constitution and the international human rights covenants.
We further call upon Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to meet with representatives of the Boeung Kak community during his visit to Cambodia on Oct. 26-28 in order to demonstrate the commitment of the United Nations to its core founding purpose of “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms” for all people everywhere.
We wish to convene an urgent meeting on Nov. 4 to discuss action that can be taken by the international development community on this case. Please contact Sia Phearum, Secretary General of the Housing Rights Task Force, at firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 25 to indicate whether you or your representative will attend this meeting.
Village 1, Boeung Kak
Village 6, Boeung Kak
Village 20, Boeung Kak
Village 21, Boeung Kak
Village 22, Boeung Kak
Non Sok Na
Village 23, Boeung Kak
Village 24, Boeung Kak
Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)
Chit Sam Ath
NGO Forum on Cambodia
Bridges Across Borders Cambodia (BABC)
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)
Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC)
Community Peace Building Network (CPN)
Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
Cambodia Human Rights and Development Organization (ADHOC)