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Families Rally Against Rushed Phnom Penh Eviction

A group of 70 people representing scores of families from Phnom Penh's Russei Keo district gathered along the banks of the Mekong River Friday to protest their impending eviction from land they have occupied for nearly 30 years.

About 132 families were given the order to move in 10 days by Russei Keo district chief Kleang Huot, protestors said. Many had been living on the land since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, in 1979.

Tres Jen, a spokesman for the group, said the families did not disagree with development in the area, but they wanted fair compensation for moving.

"We appeal to the government to help the poor people," he said. "We do not oppose leaving this place, but please give us another piece of land, some money, and help us pay for the moving."

Kleang Huot could not be reached for comment.

Asking people to move without compensation is a violation of their rights under Cambodia's constitution, said Ny Chariya, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said authorities have claimed they need to turn the land into green space for the annual Water Festival.

"The Water Festival never affects this area," he said. "And the order for people to leave in 10 days is cruel."