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Civil Society Groups Condemn Violent Eviction of Borei Keila Residents 

2012-01-03 - CLEC




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Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDEA), Bridges Across Borders Cambodia (BABC), Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), League of Beoung Kak Lake Women Struggling For Housing Rights (BKLW), Amlaing Community Rights Protection (ACRP), Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), Farmers Association for Peace & Development (FAPD), Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) and Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) 

Civil Society Groups Condemn Violent Eviction of Borei Keila Residents 

Phnom Penh (January 3, 2012) – HRTF, CYN, IDEA, BABC, CLEC, BKLW, ACRP, CCFC, FADP, PLCN and LICADHO strongly condemns today’s violent destruction of the homes of some 300 families living in Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila settlement. 

The  destruction  of  these  homes  marks  yet  another  sad  turn  for  a  development  that  was  once promoted as a model alternative to the eviction and off-­?site  relocation of the Phnom Penh’s urban poor. 

In early 2003, a “land-­?sharing”  arrangement was proposed for Borei Keila, which allowed the well-­? connected construction  company, Phanimex, to develop part of the area for commercial purposes while providing housing to the residents on the remaining land. Phanimex was obligated to build 10 apartment buildings on two hectares of land for the villagers in return for obtaining ownership of an additional 2.6 hectares for commercial development. 

In April 2010, Phanimex unilaterally reneged on the agreement, however – with the approval of the government – and only constructed eight buildings. That left 300 Borei Keila families excluded from the original agreement – and still living in housing on the site. These were the homes that Phanimex representatives destroyed today. 

“This is such a terrible situation for these families,” said Teng Savoeun, CCFC Coordinator. “It is also a

very sad way to start the new year.” 

"Clearly land-­?grabbing and forced eviction in Cambodia will not disappear in 2012, and the situation for  people  at  risk  of  eviction  will  probably  get  worse.”  said  Tep  Vanny,  BKLW  member.  “The government  should  be helping  and protecting  the people  not assisting  a company  that does not respect its contractual agreement” she adds. 

The demolition was carried out by Phanimex employees and paid workers alongside an excavator, which  crushed  houses  before  residents  had  the  opportunity  to  clear  out  their  belongings.  The process was overseen by over 100 mixed police forces who arrested and detained eight community representatives, including one minor who were taken to the main police commissioner and three bodyguards who were taken to an unknown location. Police also fired tear gas and live ammunition on the residents of Borey Keila.

Human rights monitors on site witnessed workers using a jackhammer to break up a large rock surrounding a group of police officers, who then took the stones and threw those at residents. Some also attacked residents with sticks. At least 12 people were injured including one policeman, some seriously.

“This  eviction  shows  once  again  the  Cambodia’s  political  and  economic  elite  can  operate  with absolute  impunity,  without  regard  to  the  law,”  said  Tim  Malay,  President  of  CYN.  “There  was  a legally-­?binding contract that obligated Phanimex to build 10 buildings. They only built eight buildings. Instead of being forced to abide by the terms of the contract, they are allowed not only to destroy people’s homes, but to do it with the assistance of government officials. This is so bad.”

HRTF, CYN, IDEA, BABC, CLEC, BKLW, ACRP, CCFC, FADP, PLCN and LICADHO calls for Phanimex to honor  its  agreement   to  build  10  apartment   buildings   for  Borei  Keila  residents,   and  for  the government to ensure that construction takes place. The 11 civil society groups also call for an investigation  into the excessive  use of force by police officer’s overseeing  the demolition  work at Borei Keila today.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Eang Vuthy, Program Manager of BABC, 012 791 700

Mr. Chheng Sophors, Senior Monitor of LICADHO, 012 879 795