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Residents Defy Eviction to the End

A group of residents of Phnom Penh's Dey Krahorm neighborhood are fighting to the last city orders to relocate to the outskirts of the city, with a final eviction notice issued by the city on Dec. 25.

Chamkarmon District Governor Lo Yuy said in his order the residents have until Tuesday, Dec. 30, to leave the neighborhood, but the impoverished residents said they were ready to face armed confrontation over their right to remain.

"They wait for an armed eviction by the authorities," resident Chan Vichet told reporters Monday. "They will use their rights to protect their property if there is a forced eviction."

Bun Rachana, a member of the Housing Rights Task Force, which advocates for resident rights, appealed to the government and the 7NGdevelopment company not to use violence against the remaining families, urging instead more time to find an acceptable resolution to the brewing confrontation.

Neither Ly Yuy, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema nor 7NG Director Srei Sothea could not be reached for comment Monday, but Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Man Chhoeurn said he believed Kep Chuktema would resolve the situation peacefully.

"I believe that our leaders are clever enough to resolve this issue,"he said, adding that so far 1,374 out of 1,465 Dey Krahorm families had relocated.

The removal of the residents stems from an April 2004 agreement between the city government and 7NG to develop 3.6 hectares of slum area, forcing the removal of hundreds of families to suburb in Dangkor district, where the newly relocated found few services or job opportunities and began demanding greater compensation.

The dozens of families that remain could face charges varying from thedestruction of property and assault on 7NG employees. One man wassentenced in August to three years in prison on assault, defamationand forgery charges stemming from conflicts with the developmentcompany and city authorities.