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Boeung Kak Lake Protesters Look to US for Help

King Sihamoni of Cambodia accepts diplomatic papers from newly appointed US Ambassador Carol Rodley, 2009.

Lake residents protesting over a Phnom Penh development delivered a letter to the US Embassy on Monday, asking for support in their ongoing dispute with the city and a development company.

The Boeung Kak villagers are asking the city to grant them a portion of land on the development site, rather than take buyouts and be removed to a resettlement site outside the city.

Fifteen representatives of 100 lake area residents thumb-printed the letter, addressed to US Ambassador Carol Rodley, requesting urgent intervention in their imminent eviction.

Developer Shukaku, Inc., has residential and commercial plans covering 133 hectares over Beoung Kak lake, which it has been filling in with earth dredged from the Tonle Sap river.

Residents say they are not happy with buyout or resettlement offers and have instead proposed they be given a corner of the development for their own homes instead.

Tep Vanny, a representative of the villagers, told reporters Monday they now had “no choice” but to appeal to the US, “a democratic country that has donated a lot to Cambodia.”

“We’ve tried to find a solution from all relevant authorities, but we never get a response,” said Sous Nary, a 44-year-old resident of the area. “We want the Cambodian government to offer what we need in order to prevent conflict.”

Villagers have staged a number of demonstrations in front of City Hall, often clashing with police as a result.

Embassy officials were not immediately available to comment Monday, which is a US holiday. City officials declined to comment.