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City Hall Sets Two-Week Ultimatum for Borei Keila Residents to Leave

Former residents of the Borei Keila community clashed with security forces during the fifth anniversary of the violent eviction on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

The authorities said they would take residents to court if they refused to move by the deadline.

Phnom Penh City Hall has set a two-week deadline for residents of the Borei Keila community to accept compensation offers and move out of the area.

The deadline was announced on the six-year anniversary of a controversially forced eviction at Borei Keila that forced many residents out of their homes to make way for a development planned by the Phanimex company, owned by tycoon Suy Sophan.

The authorities said they would take residents to court if they refused to move by the deadline.

Tensions in Borei Keila have risen since security forces clashed with residents in the community in January as they marked the five-year anniversary of their eviction.

City Hall said so far some 90 percent of Borei Keila residents have already accepted compensation.

Compensation offers to Borei Keila residents have ranged from $3,000 to about $5,000 and have also included modest houses in other areas of the capital.

Sophan had pledged to build 10 apartments on the site to house displaced residents, but only built eight before declaring the funds had run dry.

Sar Sorn, 58, a community representative who remains in Borei Keila, said the compensation offers were not sufficient and that new homes offered by the company were in remote and economically nonviable areas.

“When they go to Tuol Sombo and Andoung villages, they will be far away from markets and there is no place for making a living and the schools and hospitals are also far away. I heard them complaining about difficult access to water and electricity,” she added.

Mean Chanyada, deputy Phnom Penh governor, declined to comment, and City Hall spokesman Meth Measpheakdey could not be reached.

Am Sam Ath, chief of local rights group Licadho’s investigation unit, said there should be further negotiations between the authorities, company, and residents.

“We, in the name of civil society, want them to discuss and review the conditions of the agreement since the beginning between the people and the company as well as the authorities in order to solve problems with justice and transparency. I think that there are not many people in Borei Keila, so there should be a peaceful resolution,” he said.