Six hectares of Phnom Penh’s Boeng Tamok has been handed to a four-star general in charge of the Interior Ministry’s finance department, as residents living along the lake’s shore continued to protest their looming resettlement.
A sub-decree seen on Monday says two plots totaling 6 hectares in Prek Pnov district’s Ponhea Poan commune would be handed to Seng Yu An, a general and Interior Ministry official. The decree, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, is dated February 1.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the ministry had no involvement in the land, while a contact for Yu An could not immediately be found. The Interior Ministry’s logistics and finance department lists Yu An as a four-star general and its director.
The transfer of land follows other plots on the lake handed to military commander-in-chief Vong Pisen and military police commander Sao Sokha. More than 2,000 hectares of the 3,200-hectare lake have now been parceled out to individuals and institutions and it is now being rapidly filled with land for development.
The sand filling and development is pushing out current residents of Boeng Tamok, who either live on its shores or use the water body for fishing or growing vegetables.
A group living on the northeast shore have protested their resettlement, and submitted petitions to the Land Ministry, prime minister’s cabinet and National Assembly.
They returned to those institutions on Monday to press for a response to their petitions.
Outside the National Assembly, protester Phorn Sokhom said around 250 families feared their evictions were imminent after seven representatives — including her — were summoned to court for incitement and obstruction. The representatives have been told to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on August 3.
“What I am protesting today is for our proper living space,” Sokhom said. “People have protested to not have their houses demolished, and instead the authorities file a complaint to the court. Is that fair?”
Kong Toeur, 58, who has also been summoned, said the poor were being displaced for the rich.
“I wonder why those who have money and status get land in the area, and why I’m a Cambodian citizen with just a small place and [I] can’t live there. The authorities asked us to move to another place while I have been living there for more than 30 years,” Toeur said.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights’ Vann Sophat and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut’s Em Khemara expressed their concerns for Boeng Tamok’s development and the undermining of residents’ rights.
“Relevant authorities must ensure that they adhere to a just and fair implementation of the law, resolve issues peacefully, and do not violate the rights of citizens and inflict pain on them with eviction,” Sophat said.