Lakeside Families Rebuff Offer

Nov. 25, 2010. The Phnom Penh Post reported:

“Representatives of 12 families set to be evicted from the Boeung Kak lakeside’s Village 22 rejected a compensation offer yesterday from developer Shukaku Inc, complaining their village chief had intentionally withheld a letter outlining a deadline for a settlement to pressure negotiations.

The representatives said they rushed to the office of the Boeung Kak Development Committee yesterday after a letter dated November 17 from Daun Penh governor Sok Sambath giving them one week to negotiate compensation was delivered to them just one day before the due date by village chief Men Sokha.

The group, representing 80 families, has consistently said they do not want to negotiate a resettlement package unless an existing cash compensation offer of US$8,500 was substantially increased.

“However, our discussion was not successful because the committee did not agree with our request. They tried to force us to receive compensation of $8,500 to leave our homes,” village representative Sok Tongheng said.

Another representative Ros Sovan said the Boeung Kak Development Committee had previously assured him that a resettlement agreement could be negotiated over a longer time frame provided he agreed to move into temporary accommodations.

“We were very worried when we received this letter,” he said, adding that he had told authorities he was willing to wait as long as it took to negotiate a resettlement offer.

According the group, the letter states that the villagers must come to a compensation agreement by November 24 or “the authorities will take legal action and will not responsible for loss of or damage to any of your belongings, if you do not follow this notification”.

Men Sokha, chief of Village 22, denied he had deliberately withheld the letter yesterday.

“I also had just received this letter from Srah Chork commune authorities on November 23 as well. I immediately distributed it to the villagers,” he said.

But In Sophorn, Srah Chork deputy commune chief, said that she had sent the letter to local authorities on Tuesday of last week.

“If they want to cooperate we will extend the deadline.”

She confirmed authorities were willing to house the villagers in temporary accommodation while negotiations took place over a possible resettlement offer, but declined to specify where they would be temporarily relocated.

“This time we want them to discuss with us at the office on Friday in order to find a way to solve the issue together,” she said.

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