Thousands of Cambodians Petition Government to End Forced Evictions

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Thousands march in Phnom Penh calling on the government to resolve land disputes, Oct. 6, 2014.
Thousands march in Phnom Penh calling on the government to resolve land disputes, Oct. 6, 2014.

About 3,000 Cambodians, many of them victims of land grabs, marched to parliament and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence on Monday in a bid to highlight the plight of the landless on World Habitat Day.

Villagers who were evicted from their land to make for “development projects,” as well as activists and monks, from eight provinces joined the march to mark the annual event, which this year seeks to raise awareness of the living conditions of slum dwellers.

Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Voices of the Urban Poor,” the protesters stood outside the National Assembly, or parliament, and shouted demands to “end forced eviction” and for the government to “allow villagers to implement development projects instead of companies.”

They sought to deliver to lawmakers a petition listing their demands, as well as the details of individual cases of ongoing land disputes around the country.

According to local human rights group Licadho, at least a half million Cambodians have been evicted, or threatened with eviction, since 2000.

Chhim Sokheng, from northern Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province, told RFA’s Khmer Service that she had joined Monday’s petition of the National Assembly because her home had been destroyed and her land confiscated by local authorities as part of a development project.

“I spent all of my life earning enough to have a house,” she said.

“I am 57 years old. But now the house has been destroyed.”

She called on lawmakers to resolve her land dispute because Hun Sen had asked the nation’s villagers to send their petitions to the government.

After the crowd had waited outside of the National Assembly for about an hour, lawmakers from Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and Sam Rainsy’s opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) met with them and accepted their petition.

CPP lawmaker Lork Kheng, who is a member of the National Assembly’s Commission on Human Rights, vowed to tackle the issue of forced evictions in Cambodia.

“If the villagers are suffering, the lawmakers suffer even more,” she told the petitioners.

“We will examine the issues according to the law.”

After delivering petitions to the National Assembly, the activists marched to Hun Sen’s home, where they were met by several thousand military police and security guards who had been deployed to prevent them from entering the property.

Staff members from Hun Sen’s cabinet accepted petitions from the crowd and the protest ended peacefully.

Bitter problem

Land disputes are a bitter problem for Cambodia, where rural villagers and urban dwellers alike have been mired in conflicts that the U.N.’s special rapporteur for human rights to Cambodia has warned could threaten the country’s stability.

The country’s land issues date from the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, which forced large-scale evacuations and relocations, followed by a period of mass confusion over land rights and the formation of squatter communities when the refugees returned in the 1990s after a decade of civil war.

In September, Surya P. Subedi, the U.N.’s special envoy on Cambodian human rights, noted that several ongoing human rights problems still remain unresolved in the country, including the plight of those asked to leave their land to make way for development projects.

Reported by Khe Sonorng for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Comments (3)


from Long Beach

Cambodia is so corrupt on so many levels. The government is corrupt starting from Prime Minister AH HUN SEN. Poor people getting evicted from their land to make way for big companies to destroy environment and take over Cambodia. I totally agree with Spottagus. If you tackle the root of the problem (in this case corrupt thugs in parliament) then poor people will still have their land and won't have to be beggars or sell their daughters to brothels to be prostitute.
jeyo khmer!

Nov 01, 2014 01:45 PM


from lowell,ma

Again and again!!! Om Yintieng must stop cleaning corruption from the bottom because it is just waste time only to make thing looks good, but the core problem is still tyrannize the society. You must must changing the strategy by cleansing, waxing, and flushing from the top tier where the root of evils are sucking innocent people money blood. Innocent people are crying with hopeless where their destiny are relying for someone who can hear their pains. Have some mercy of the people who are crying with heart broken who don't ask for much just only a drop of small hope to live like a human. You can have all you want, but at the end you will leave nothing behind. If you do good to help the people, you will leave something for people to remember your legacy and respect you as their hero.

Oct 06, 2014 10:12 PM


from lowell,ma

om yentieng (president of anti-corruption) are trying to clean corrupted people from the low people to the top level. I think that is wrong tactic unless he is scare to touch the top and more powerful. The best method is to clean from the top because the top tier is the one who control and setup the low level. If the top is removed, the bottom is gone by themselves because once the top starting going to jail, the bottom will scare. Then, the ant-corruption system will be effective. So, don't waste time cleaning from the bottom. Go straight to the root cause and where the evil hives are rooted. Try to find the where the problem are and fix it permanently instead of putting bandage just for temporary relief.

Oct 06, 2014 09:43 PM





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