Media Project

STT is a member of the Housing Rights Task Force, a coalition of NGOs working to assist Communities in their efforts to uphold their right to housing and claim fair and adequate compensation as expressed in Article 44 of the Constitution. STT is also a member of the Resettlement Action Network (RAN) based at the NGO Forum. Check out our Facebook site on http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=87021803044&v=wall&ref=ts

Russei Keo: 42 families evicted

The Cambodia Daily reported that on 31st March 2011 bulldozers razed 44 homes (42 families) in Toul Kok village, Toul Sangkai commune, carrying out a 2007 Supreme Court order awarding the land to Khun Haing, deputy head of the National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution (NALDR). ‘The land belongs to Mr Khun Haing because he has the land title’ confirmed Khlaing Huot, the Russei Keo district Governor. The bulldozers were accompanied by 200 military police and district police. Local resident Kun Sunlok, 42, asked ‘why allow us to build, to buy and fill earth and live here for seven years?’ Ngeth Both said land had been sold to residents by Mrs Taing Chhun Eng, the former owner of the land and winner of the original 2004 lawsuit. After appeals in 2007 the land was awarded to Mr Haing.

PP: World Bank admits errors; Chinese involvement confirmed

International attention on Boeung Kak continues to mount in 2011 with the World Bank’s Inspection panel confirming, in a press statement on 8th March, concerns about mismanagement and ‘arbitrary exclusion of lands from the titling process’. Earlier in the year the involvement of Inner Mongolian Erdos Hung Jun Property development Company Ltd confirmed Chinese involvement which until recently had been strenuously denied by the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh. With around 1,500 of the original 4,000 families still on site small demonstrations at the City Hall have become more frequent with villagers requesting on site upgrading on 15 hectares of the disputed land. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011032848189/National-news/lakeside-residents-seek-meeting.html

Phnom Penh: simmering unrest as Boeung Kak clearance continues

About 100 residents from Boeung Kak lake’s Village 7 clashed with police on 20th December 2010 during a heated protest relating to the recent flooding of lakeside homes by local developer Shukaku Inc. The protesters gathered at the developer’s office at the lakeside, urging Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene to halt the pumping of sand into the lake and reevaluate compensation packages for those agreeing to relocate for a controversial development. The protest turned violent when a Shukaku worker ordered police employed by the developer to destroy a protestor’s banner, knocking two villagers to the ground. Village representative Ly Mom also fell to the ground unconscious during the protest. Hout Motdy, a resident of Village 20, said that she was frustrated by the lack of action on the part of the authorities. “I have been everywhere, including Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house, the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, City Hall, the Daun Penh district office and the developer’s office but they just sent us from place to place,” she said. “This shows the intention of the government not to address our issue.” Hout Motdy said villagers have never heard Hun Sen address the Boeung Kak development issue in public. “If Samdech [Hun Sen] just says one word to let us stay, we will be able to stay here,” she said….Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, said yesterday that the government had a clear plan for relocating the villagers from the development zone. He added that city authorities would coordinate with the developer to pay the villagers compensation, provided they had “formal supporting documents or any identification papers”. “The compensation options are either an apartment in another area, cash reparations or the building of a house at the development zone,” Lim Leang Se said. Also yesterday, City Hall issued a statement calling on people not to be incited by small groups of protesters. “Phnom Penh Municipality appeals to people living under the Boeung Kak development project not to listen to a few small opportunists”, it said, asking villagers to contact the development firm to work out compensation payments. It stated that around 2,000 families from the lake had already accepted government compensation packages. Daun Penh deputy governor Sok Penh Vuth, who visited the scene of the protest yesterday, declined to comment. (PP Post reporting)

Phnom Penh: Boeung Kak’s ‘ghost families’?

Commune officials in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake area are intentionally inflating the number of families affected by a massive development project in order to pocket compensation payments, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema alleged on Thursday 17th June 2010. In a meeting with provincial governors addressing controversial guidelines on so-called temporary settlements, Kep Chuktema claimed corrupt commune officials are hinderingBK efforts to relocate residents living on disputed land by adding non-existent “ghost families” to the actual number of those affected. “They add in ghost families,” the governor said. “If there are only 100 families living in their commune, they report to us that there are 140 families.” Kep Chuktema cited the Boeung Kak lake real estate development as an example, charging that some commune officials in the area are eager to claim promised compensation funds. “When we started to develop Boeung Kak, the number of families increased because of our policy to provide US$8,000 and 2 million riels (about US$476) in compensation,” he said. With this money, he added, “It’s not hard for a commune chief to get a Land Cruiser.” “I am so hurt,” he said. “I did not fire my commune chief. But I fired my commune councillor. This is the experience I have.” The commune’s deputy chief, In Saphan, who is in charge of Boeung Kak lake issues for the commune, declined to comment about the governor’s “ghost families” claim. “I don’t know about what the Phnom Penh governor said because I did not attend the meeting,” she said. Housing rights advocates, as well as villagers who stand to be affected by the 133-hectare development say they have heard similar allegations before.
Be Pharom, who lives in the commune’s Village 22, said she had heard of officials trying to inflate the number of families living near her, though she did not name anyone in particular. “If we have one family, they increase it to two or three families,” she said. Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said he, too, has heard villagers report claims of inflated numbers. But he said it is unclear how often this is done. Rights workers say roughly 4,200 Boeung Kak families are facing eviction. But Sia Phearum said that is the government’s statistic, and that rights workers have not taken their own tally.

Phnom Penh: guidelines on ‘illegal temporary builings’

THE Council of Ministers has approved a series of new guidelines covering the resettlement of urban communities, despite concerns from housing rights advocates that they will do little to help vulnerable residents in the capital. The Circular on the Settlement of Illegal Temporary Buildings inCopy of Pum peay eviction Cities and Urban Areas, approved by the council, orders local authorities to identify illegal settlements and includes mechanisms for relocating residents and providing them with compensation. The new version of the circular has not yet been made public, but housing rights advocates have expressed concerns about a draft version distributed in December. They say “illegal temporary buildings” ignore the legitimate land claims of many urban poor. “The government has forced people to leave and to accept compensation. They confiscate land from them and hand over to the rich and to companies which provide people very little,” said Chan Soveth, an investigator for Adhoc.But Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the intention of the circular is to “assist people and the government to eliminate disordered settlements in public places” and to ensure that sufficient compensation is paid. “Even though they have built their houses and other things on the road, we still have a policy to compensate them according to what the law stipulates,” he said. At a meeting on 17th June 2010 Government officials defended their record on relocations and rejected the use of the word ‘eviction’. Land Management Minister Lim Chhun Lim commented ‘Evictions only happened during the Pol Pot regime’ insisting that the Government has always removed settlements following ‘international standards’. Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun also added ‘now the country is in peace and there is no eviction. Please do not exaggerate the information. We have done a lot so far’.

Phnom Penh: Phum 104/105 told to leave

Residents will be relocated to the outskirts of the capital, officials said Sunday 30th May 2010, reversing earlier statements that families would be given the option of rebuilding their homes and staying on their current land. On May 27 a letter signed by commune chief Van Sareth was distributed to families living in Boeung Kak 2 commune and warned that “administrative measures” would be taken to “pull down” any houses rebuilt since the fire, and that officials would “not be responsible for the loss of villagers’ personal property”. 100531_3 Tuol Kork district Governor Seng Ratanak confirmed that all 257 families would be relocated. This would take place, he said, when the 68 families that have not yet agreed to move drop their resistance to the plan. In its immediate aftermath, local officials told affected families that they could stay in the commune, provided they accept 3.92-by-5.5-metre plots of land – a downgrade for many of the families – and leave sufficient space for the construction of access roads. Relocated families are set to receive 5-by-12-metre plots of land in Dangkor district’s Choam Chao commune.Duong Sothea, 36, a representative of the 68 holdout families, said they view this deal as inadequate, and that they will continue to lobby officials for the opportunity to stay in Boeung Kak 2. Ream Samon, a resident who has agreed to move, said conditions are too tough in Boeung Kak 2 in the aftermath of the fire, and that they had ultimately worn her down. “We are living like animals because the authorities have banned us from building a new home with a metal roof,” she said. “In the daytime it is too hot, and some nights we cannot sleep because of the rainfall.”

Kampong Speu:villagers dispute Sugar company concession

About 300 villagers from Omlaing commune turned out Monday 29th March 2010 in front of the provincial court to welcome the release of You Tho and Khem Vuthy.The two were arrested last Wednesday on what rights groups have said are likely unfounded charges, including incitement, arson and destruction of property.The issues stems from on ongoing land dispute between the Phnom Penh Sugar Company owned by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat which was granted a 9,000-hectare land concession , which rights groups say could be in violation of Cambodia’s Land Law if, as suspected, owner Ly Yong Phat is also the beneficiary of an adjacent 10,000-hectare land concession. Under the Land Law, concessions are limited to 10,000 hectares.

Phnom Penh: Beoung Kak residents plea to stop evictions

Copy of DSC03534On 11th March 2010 more than 100 residents gathered at the Prime Minister’s Tuk Khmau residence to plea for assistance after the first official delineation of the Shukaku development boundaries were made public. The document was issued by the Council of Ministers on 2nd March 2010. Since sand sludge pumping began in August 2008 over 1,000 families have been displaced from Phums (Villages) 1,2 and 4 which accounts for almost one third of the families in the affected area. The lake itself is now 50-60% filled and the World Bank is currently reviewing an Inspection Panel complaint submitted by local residents who claim that the area was adjudicated for titling in 2006 and is entitled to compensation at market rates. To date most residents have been offered 8,000 USD or a plot at the Damnak Trawyoeung relocation site, almost 30kms by road from the city centre.

Phnom Penh: Fire in Phum 104 and Samaki 105, Sangkat Boeung Kak 2

Phum 104 fire 8mar10

Fire ripped through 178 homes on Monday evevning 8th March 2010 in Phum 104 and soon engulfed neighbouring Samaki 105 and part of Wat Neak Von, leaving 257 families, 181 students and 90 monks homeless. Community representatives said the fire started in the upstairs part of a wooden house without electricity, from a candle. Following the fire, community members sought shelter in nearby Wat Neak Von as well as a railway warehouse located next to the community. Residents have indicated they wish to rebuild on the site, but have been warned that they will need to make way for wider roads to allow fire truck access.<p>

Kampot: DANIDA questions to MoE about impact on fishing zones

villagers removed

On 19th October 2009 DANIDA wrote to the Ministry of Environment Minister, HE Mok Mareth, raising concerns about the development projects of Okhna Vinh Huor (1,000 hectare Kampot Port concession) and Keo Chea (200 hectare concession). The combined projects are set to impact 9 kilometres of coastline which were designated Community Fishery zones by former Kampot Governor Puth Chandarith. The impact will be felt by hundreds of families reliant on the fishing area for their livelihood and by the environment itself which is part of a 24,000 hectare zone of sea grass – a highly valued, but sensitive, habitat for fish breeding currently being researched by the United Nations Environement Programme (UNEP). The Ministry is yet to reply.

Kampot: Fishing community reject filling of coastline

On Tuesday 6th October 2009 around 300-400 Kep Thmey villagers blocked access to 3 trucks hired by the Keo Chea company to fill coastal waters that villagers state is a Community Fishery zone designated by the Fisheries Administration (see image). The truck drivers were forced to tip their loads on the side of the road and leave the site. This coordinated community action follows last week’s rejection of Keo Chea’s development plans to fill 200 hectares of coastal waters that villagers say will destroy their livelihoods. ‘We do not oppose development but why not build factories as well as keeping the fishing. Without these fishing zones we can not earn a living and can not feed our children’ said one villagers who wished to remain anonymous. Police presence was light and some expressed sympathy with the cause of the villagers. No Company rep was present at the site.

Phnom Penh: Group 78 – final Bassac residents cleared

At 4am on 17th July 2009 the 3 year campaign of Group 78 residents to leave their homes on the Bassac riverfront, culminated in the eviction of the final 53 families. Over the years, the community (which is located adjacent to the new Australian Embassy) were served with a number of eviction notices by local authorities while witnessing two violent forced eviction that took place in the same area, namelyNPA visit 27May09 Dey Krahorm (January 2009) and Sambok Chap (June 2006). “Today is yet another black day for land rights in Cambodia,” said LICADHO director Naly Pilorge. “Once more, some of Phnom Penh’s poorest and most vulnerable residents have been forced off their land in return for grossly inadequate compensation.” At 4 am this morning, dozens of armed police took up positions around Group 78 in order to enforce a municipal order that they dismantle their homes or be forcibly removed. This followed 53 families yesterday “agreeing” to the authorities’ demand that they an offer of $8,000 compensation or their homes would be forcibly destroyed. Negotiations this morning with the remaining 7 families who had not “agreed” led to a final offer to them of up to $20,000 in compensation which they all accepted, except for one family whose home was destroyed against their will. “We are glad to see that many of Cambodia’s key donors now recognize the seriousness of the land situation and the consequences for poverty reduction and economic growth,” said Mr. Ou Virak, Executive Director of CCHR. “The international community must continue to urge the government to rectify its disastrous land policies.”

Phnom Penh: Dey Krahom – final families purged by force

The final phase of eviction of Dey Krahorm residents began at 6am on Saturday 24 January 2009 and was carried out by over 300 police officers and up to 500 breakers hired by the private company 7NG. The eviction was marked by excessive use of force endangering the lives of Dey Krahorm residents, and resulting in over 18 injuries – 5 of which were serious. It also saw the systematic destruction of private property, while the police and breakers hired by 7NG blocked attempts by human rights observers and the press to monitor and report on the event. “7NG needs to get serious about providing adequate compensation to these evicted home owners, instead of imposing arbitrary deadlines and issuing threats that these people will receive nothing,” said LICADHO director Naly Pilorge.

http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/album/view_photo.php?cat=43

Kampot: Anlong Kraom – intimidation of settlers continues


Licadho and STT staff visited the site on 10th January 2009 after calls from villagers saying that 4 unarmed Department of Environment officials and 13 armed soldiers from Unit 31 returned to the site and torched 20 dwellings that had been rebuilt after the November evictions. The deputy Commune chief commented that he had not been informed of the action. On arrival at the site Military Police officers and soldiers were talking with one household and it emerged that they have been going house to house asking villagers to thumb print documents saying they will leave. Most villagers said they refused but they remain under intense intimidation and most are fearful of further violence. Licadho is providing further basic food and shelter assistance but it is clear that this is not a solution for the 300+ families in total.

For more on housing rights see the following links:

Kampot riverfront proposal February 2008 (English) (Khmer)
COHRE – www.cohre.org
NGO Forum on Cambodia – www.ngoforum.org.kh
TAO Philippines – www.tao-pilipinas.org
Asian Coalition for Housing Rights – www.achr.org
Case THAILAND – roonrakwit@yahoo.com
Case JAPAN – www.case-jp.com

For more information on land, land-grabbing, evictions and mapping of land-conflict go to:
peace-and-justice-cambodia.awardspace.com
NEW – Community Action blog – add your community’s story today. peaceandjustice.cambodia.blogroll@blogger.com

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