11/29/2011, 00.00
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People arrested, injured in demonstrations against forced evictions in Phnom Penh

Residents of Boeung Kak Lake area protested in front of city hall and the French Embassy against a new urban development plan. They want compensation and land for resettlement in accordance with a prime ministerial directive. A woman killed herself last week out of desperation.
Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Four residents from an area in central Phnom Penh were arrested and six were reportedly injured during clashes with municipal police yesterday. They were demanding that officials hasten the process of granting them land within an onsite relocation area set aside by the government. Their original land is located near Boeung Kak Lake and is being seized to build a luxury residential complex.

Much of the Cambodian capital is under intense economic and commercial development. A Chinese-Cambodian company is undertaking the project, and has already started demolishing existing homes.

About 50 demonstrators took to the streets to get government help after technical staff began surveying their land for the new development project. In the morning, they met outside city hall, moving to the French Embassy in the afternoon.

At present, the whereabouts of those arrested is unknown. One woman, 55-year-old Kong Chantha, said she was willing to “die” if the “authorities do not provide a proper solution for our people in the Boeung Kak area”.

In previous days, she had insisted that residents whose homes had been demolished by developer Shukaku Inc. and local authorities were entitled to land within an area designated by Prime Minister Hin Sen in a directive issued August.

According to the prime minister’s decree, 12.44 hectares (31 acres) were to be set aside for the 794 families facing eviction. However, local authorities said scores of families lack property title deeds recognised by the government and have excluded them from the land.

In the meantime, tensions between residents and the authorities continue to rise, as does anger and desperation among people.

Last week, Chea Dara, a 30-year-old mother of two, threw herself from a bridge after she lost her home to local authorities and the developer.
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