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Lakeside residents seek meeting

Boeung Kak lake residents will once again seek a meeting with Phnom
Penh Governor Kep Chuktema today, after being forcibly turned away by
police during an attempt on Friday.
Residents threatened with eviction from the Boeung Kak lake area protest outside City Hall in Phnom Penh on Friday. Photo by: Sovan Philong
Lakeside residents submitted
a written request for a meeting on Friday through the United Nations
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, seeking to discuss
their proposal to set aside 15 hectares of the 133-hectare development
for local villagers, and said City Hall had returned the letter with an
official stamp.

Tep Vanny, a representative for more than 1,500
households facing eviction, said villagers would come to City Hall
today seeking a response.

“This is the last chance for [Kep
Chuktema] to demonstrate whether he is willing to meet and settle our
problem or not,” Tep Vanny said.

“We will continue to ask for
intervention from Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen] and relevant
institutions if he still uses the excuse that he is busy resolving
other affairs,” she said.

Kep Chuktema declined to comment yesterday.

On
Friday, police armed with riot shields and electric batons subdued a
protest by villagers, and hit and temporarily detained one woman.

Protester
Kong Chantha said she nearly lost consciousness after a policeman
elbowed her in the forehead and forced her into a police car.

She
said three trucks of police, lead by Daun Penh district deputy governor
Sok Penhvuth, had descended on the protesters, dispersing the crowd.

“Sok
Penhuvuth’s subordinates arrested me as a weak woman protesting to ask
for land and a house for my children. They seemed to think I was a
prisoner because they caught me and put me into a prisoner car,” she
said. “I didn’t rob anyone’s land. They are cracking down on me daily.”

Kong Chantha said she would file a complaint against the police over the incident. Sok Penhvuth declined to comment.

OHCHR staff, present to monitor the event on Friday, helped secure the release of Kong Chantha.

Christophe
Peschoux, OHCHR country representative, said his office had written to
city officials and the company developing the area, urging them to find
a solution by meeting with villagers.

“Two weeks ago, we wrote
to the mayor of Phnom Penh, Kep Chuktema, and we wrote to the head of
Shukaku and encouraged them to meet with the community on the basis of
the options opened by the municipality – either financial compensation,
relocation, or on-site upgrading,” Peschoux said. “My understanding is
that the community has opted for on-site upgrading.”

He said he has not yet received a response from city officials.

Additional reporting by Thomas Miller

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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