Community Media Statement (full text)

Feb. 28, 2011. Full media statement by the BKL community issued Feb. 23, 2011:

We are here to publicly present a landsharing plan that we have developed as a solution to the ongoing dispute between our community and Shukaku Inc. in the Boeung Kak area.

We are the people currently living in Beoung Kak, Sangkat Srahchok, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. The area has been populated since 1979. Before evictions began, over 4,000 families lived in the area, divided into nine villages. In 2006, the Municipality of Phnom Penh (MPP) organized a meeting for Beoung Kak residents in Srachchok’s pagoda, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. The purpose of the meeting was to announce the commencement of systematic land titling in the area. Following this, local authorities together with a group of cadastral commission staff came to our community and measured our houses. Nevertheless, systematic land titling was never conducted in Boeung Kak. We later learned the area had been excluded from the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP).

On Feb 06, 2007, the MPP declared a lease had been signed awarding 133 ha Beoung Kak area to Shukaku Inc. Company for 99 years. In August 28, 2008, Shukaku Inc. Started pumping sand into the lake. Since then, several residents have been forcibly evicted, while remaining residents live under constant threat of eviction. The company has pumped sand to flood as well as bury residential houses, company staff and local authorities have threatened us, they have prevented community members from meeting, protesting and the residents have been beaten and treated badly by the company’s security guards and local authorities. People living in Beoung Kak consider these activities violations of their human rights.

The situation is unacceptable. The leasing of the land in Boeung Kak violates our legal rights under the Constitution of Cambodia (1993) and the Land Law (2001). We are the rightful owners of our property on the land surrounding Boeung Kak Lake.

To make us leave the area, we have been told that we have three options: cash compensation, relocation to Damnak Troyung, and on-site development. The last option is also referred to in the lease contract between Shukaku Inc. and the MPP. Unfortunately, we have never seen any plans for on-site development.

If the government needs to develop the Beoung Kak area, people are not against development. However, the government needs to open negotiations to solve the problem facing the people in Beoung Kak in order to be fair, transparent and to find a win-win-win solution to the situation.

To get negotiations under way, the remaining 1000-1500 families living in the Boeung Kak area have decided to agree to the third option of on-site development.

Because no on-site development plan has been put forward by the company, we have developed our own plan to solve the land dispute between Shukaku Inc. and our community.

Our purpose here today is to state that we are willing to share our land with the developer if the Government commits to building us new housing onsite. On January 26th, formally asked the Municipality of Phnom Penh as well as Shukaku Inc. to reserve 12%, or 15 hectares, of the leased area for this purpose. We have also asked the World Bank and other development partners to support the Government to make this plan possible.

Yesterday, we were extremely disappointed to receive a letter from the MPP rejecting our proposal. We strongly believe our proposal not only represents a mutually beneficial solution to the ongoing land dispute, but is also a concession on our part as we agree to share land that we believe is rightfully ours. Furthermore, the rejection of this plan represents a breach in the initial contract between the MPP and Shukaku Inc.

We call on the MPP and Shukaku Inc. to reconsider their stance and accept this olive branch the Boeung Kak community is offering. Despite having been beaten, threatened, intimidated, and forced to leave our homes, we are ready to sit down to discuss an equitable, just, and sustainable solution to the ongoing land dispute. As representative of the Cambodian government and hence also the Cambodian people, we expect the MPP will do the same.

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