Land grabs are Cambodian cancer

Jan. 25, 2011. In December, The Bangkok Post ran a story on Boeung Kak.

“Standing knee-deep in dirty water, 60-year-old Men Chhoeuy uses a crowbar to dismantle his small wooden house on the edge of a lake in the Cambodian capital.

A village is being flooded by water and sand near Boeng Kak lake in Phnom Penh. As a construction company fills a lake with sand in the centre of the Cambodian capital, thousands of residents worry they will be the next victims in an epidemic of forced evictions across the country.

He is the latest resident to give up the fight against a private company accused of spewing sand into lakeside homes as it fills in the 130-hectare (320-acre) site to make way for high-rise buildings and shopping centres.

“Many neighbours have already left,” said Men Chhoeuy as he continued his demolition work on the northern edge of Boeung Kak lake, one of the last large open spaces left in Phnom Penh and once home to about 4,000 families.

The sand-pumping has increased significantly in recent weeks and a number of homes were fully immersed in a matter of days, leaving only the tips of roofs sticking out as startled families scrambled to save what belongings they could.

“The message that is being sent to the remaining residents at the lake is that they should accept the compensation being offered to them or else their houses too will be buried in mud,” said David Pred, executive director of Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, a non-governmental organisation.”

You can read the full story here.

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