More than 100 people from the Boeung Kak lake area of Phnom Penh protested in front of Phnom Penh City Hall
Monday, claiming development of the area was continuing before they had been
properly compensated for living.
The residents said the Shukaku, Inc., development company
had already begun filling the lake, starting from April.
Protester Huon Sopha, 42, said if the company continues to
fill the lake, its rising water level will cause her house to collapse. Shukaku
must stop filling the lake, she said, as most people living around it disagreed
with a municipal moving policy.
Only about 400 of a total 4,000 families around the lake
have accepted a company buyout of $8,000 per family to leave.
Thon Yon, a 60-year-old lake resident, said Monday she would
not accept $8,000. Her house should be compensated according to current real
estate prices, between $60,000 and $70,000, she said.
Shukaku was not taking into account the current prices or
the size of each house, she said.
In April 2007, Phnom
Penh signed an agreement with Shukaku to develop 43
hectares of land around the lake, in a 99-year lease worth $79 million.
In April 2008, Shukaku began filling the 90-hectare lake,
and residents said earlier this year they feared they would be moved off their
land after July's election.
Critics have also said the city's drainage will be affected
by the filling of the lake, and people who depend on the lake's water lilies
for their livelihood will be affected. Both Amnesty International and the
Center on Housing Rights and Evictions have urged the project be stopped to
ensure the rights of the residents, calling the project "in breach of both
Cambodian and international law."
Soun Rindy, Phnom
chief of cabinet, said Monday the request of the protesters was under
Shukaku representatives could not be reached for comment.
Pen Raingsey, who works for the non-government group
Resettlement Action Network, said Monday the city and the developer should not
give only one choice to the lake residents, many of whom are legal residents
and should get proper compensation for their eviction.
A representative of the lake residents, Ros Polrith, said
city officials had not provided an immediate resolution but had promised to
respond next week.