PHNOM PENH - Housing rights activists and eviction victims marked World Habitat Day on Thursday, calling on the government to end forced evictions and address ongoing land disputes.
Around 400 people gathered in front of the popular tourist site of Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, then marched down the street to City Hall, where they submitted a petition to city administrators.
Police tried to bar their way, but they pushed through barricades before passing the US Embassy en route to City Hall.
“Because of the high price of land, about 150,000 people in Phnom Penh and 400,000 residents in remote areas have lost their housing,” according to the petition.
Pich Lim Khoun, a representative of evictees from the Phnom Penh neighborhood of Borei Keila, said that World Habitat Day was an occasion for citizens to demand “housing rights and suitable shelter.”
Five representatives of the demonstrators eventually met with Kert Chhe, chief of administration for Phnom Penh, who declined to comment afterward.
“We urged the government and the Phnom Penh municipality to legally recognize poor communities and to stop evictions across the country,” Pov Panha, one of the representatives said.