Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cambodian slum dwellers forced out of their homes

Slum dwellers often get moved on when big business comes into a city. In the Cambodian capital hundreds of families have been evicted from their homes, forced to live in miserable spots outside the city.

It is pouring rain on this settlement half an hour away from Phnom Penh. Makeshift shacks have been assembled from plastic sheets and boards. There are kerosene stoves and old mattresses. It reeks of urine and feces. There are loads of kids running around.

"We’re not here out of choice," says Od Jah, who is soaking wet and sitting in front of her shack. "We had a good house in Dey Krahom district on the Tonle Sap River," adds the 25-year-old mother of six.

However, a company wanted to build a shopping center and apartments in Dey Krahom. It tried to persuade the inhabitants to leave the houses that they had built 20 years before; however, they refused to leave.

Forced evictions

In January 2009, the families were evicted by force. Manfred Hornung, a German who works with LICADHO, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights in Phnom Penh explains what happened: "At about two in the morning, police units came and cordoned off the area. Then at about six, they started pushing the people to make way for the workers employed by the company that wants the land for itself.

"The workers tore down the houses, using heavy machinery too. The police kept control. Most of the people had no time to get their personal belongings from their houses. Many of them lost everything, including their papers."

Chin Lydha, a lawyer who works for LICADHO, says the evictions are illegal. He is angry that the slum dwellers were not warned in advance so that they could at least collect their things. "They did not inform people so that they could move by themselves and they just used an administrative measure to evict them without having a court decision."

To read more:,,5411891,00.html

Forced evictions mean that slum dwellers have to move on to even worse surroundings
Source photo: AP /,,5411891,00.html

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