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City Residents Present Petition Against Eviction

This photo taken July 11, 2011 shows an overview of Boeung Kak, Phnom Penh's largest lake full of sand where thousands of residents in the area face eviction. The World Bank on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, suspended further loans to Cambodia until its governmen

Around 100 Phnom Penh residents facing expulsion from their homes gathered in front of City Hall on Wednesday, delivering a petition to make the city “eviction free.”

The demonstrators came from eight communities inside the city, warning in their petition that 10 percent of Phnom Penh’s residents have been evicted over the last 20 years, thanks to the rising value of urban real estate.

Some 150,000 people have been displaced in that time, they said, including forced evictions where their homes were bulldozed.

The petition calls for city leaders to stop forced evictions that present a bad image.

City administrative officer Keo Kosal said he received the petition, which would be reviewed.

“People have met with many difficulties when they leave the city, far from businesses, far from places of work and far from children’s schools,” said Ton Srey Pov, a Boeung Kak lake resident. “We’re delivering the petition to the city governor [Kep Chuktema] to help intervene and stop evictions of people from the city.”

“Eviction of people is making people poorer,” said Lim Sambo, 57, a former resident of the Dey Krahorm neighborhood in Phnom Penh that saw a massive, violent eviction in 2008.

Chan Saveth, chief monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said the Phnom Penh government needs to provide opportunities for the city’s poor, “who have as much the right to live in Phnom Penh as others.”