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Lawmakers Protest Fence Around Poor Residents

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and other lawmakers from his party said they joined hands in a "human chain" to stop a company from erecting a fence around a group of impoverished Phnom Penh residents Monday.

A fence around the Dei Krahorm area of Tonle Bassac commune would imprison the residents, who are living on land the 7NG company plans to develop, the lawmakers said.

"We held hands [and] put our hands on each other's shoulders" to block construction, Sam Rainsy said. "We made a fence to protect the people."

7NG was attempting to erect a fence that included sheets of tin around the area, but the fence was not intended to harm the people, a company representative said.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Ho Van called the fence "very dangerous" and compared it to a "prison."

"So there is no right at all, that they build a fence to surround the people," he said.

Residents earlier burned tires to protest the fence's construction.

7NG representative Srei Sothea said the lawmakers did not understand the fence, which was not meant to keep the people from going out.

Pum Sok Eng, a resident of the area, said many people had signed an agreement to leave but some had reneged.