Police arrested at least 13 residents, including community leaders, in the Boeung Kak development site in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, after they tried to rebuild houses that had been destroyed in a forced eviction earlier this year.
The angry residents said they were tired of waiting for a solution from the city, as they were carried one by one to waiting trucks. Three appeared to faint as they were carried away.
“We are owners of our land, and we just want to rebuild our house,” said resident Sen Touch.
Among those arrested were three prominent leaders of the ousted residents, Tep Vanny, Heng Mom and Tol Sre Peouv. The three have been key supporters of ongoing protests by residents against the Shikaku development company, which has filled Boeung Kak lake and plans to build a 133-hectare commercial and residential development on the site.
Rights activists said arrests will not solve the nettling problem at the site, which has been under development since 2008, ousting thousands of families and leading to innumerable protests, many of them violent.
“Oppression and arrests are not a solution,” said Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, who was at the site of the arrests.
City officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but rights workers said they expect the 13 detainees will appear in court Wednesday.