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Groups Mark Anniversary of 'Sparrow Nest' Eviction

Nearly 100 rights advocates held a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to mark the first anniversary of the eviction of more than 1,000 families from a Phnom Penh neighborhood slated for development.

The families were pushed to a neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, far from schools, jobs and other necessities, in the kind of displacement rights workers say is increasing as Cambodia rushes to develop.

Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho, said the vigil was organized to convey a message to the government: that the evicted families were still suffering a year after their forced relocation from the Sambok Chab, or Sparrow Nest, neighborhood.

Some families had separated, with wives staying home to guard a plot of land while husbands heading into the city for work, she said.

"I hope that the government will have compassion and help the people," she said. "It has already been a year. Please help them as relatives. The situation they are living in is very serious."

Cambodia Center for Human Rights Director Ou Vireak said the vigil was a "reminder" to the government that "the eviction of people to suburban areas is not a proper solution."