Hun Sen Threatens Eviction Without Compensation for Angkor Residents Who Negotiate

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Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at a graduation ceremony on Oct. 3, 2022. (Hun Sen’s Facebook page)

Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that families who refuse to accept government compensation to leave the Angkor area and try to bargain for higher compensation will face eviction.

During a speech on Monday at a graduation ceremony for nearly 4,000 students from Vanda University in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen warned that anyone in Siem Reap’s Angkor Archaeological Park who wishes to bargain for a higher price or larger plot of land will be removed without any compensation whenever the government issues a deadline.

“I would like to clarify that at this time the government is taking very good care and begging people to leave … but when the time comes, not even a single cent will be given and [residents will be] sent out from that area. Be informed.”

Hun Sen’s speech came after he met nearly 3,000 families who had volunteered to move out from the Angkor park to the resettlement site at Banteay Srei district’s Run Ta Ek commune.

He said on Monday that he would not allow Angkor to be removed from Unesco’s World Heritage list, and would rather remove families living in the area. When pressure comes from Unesco, the government will have to act, he said.

The park’s operator, Apsara Authority, has argued the displacement of Angkor residents is not eviction.

“Don’t say the word ‘evict,’ the people volunteered to change their homes,” Apsara spokesman Long Kosal previously said. “The use of the word ‘evict’ is not right.”

Unesco has referred questions to Apsara.

During Monday’s graduation speech, Hun Sen also addressed unnamed critics — as is his habit — about IDPoor and microfinance loans.

Talking about Covid-19 aid through the IDPoor program outside the election period was not electioneering, he said. “This policy is the policy of the CPP, which heads the government, which did it. Why can’t we speak [about this]?”

Hun Sen also said there were whispers from “rebel groups,” which he has commonly used to refer to the former Cambodia National Rescue Party, suggesting people stop repaying their microfinance loans. But their property would be confiscated if they stopped, he said.

“You borrowed others’ money with a proper contract. Now you want to have a revolution.”

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