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Lake Protesters Prepare for Freedom Park Sit-In

Children sit on top their inundated homes, where Shukaku, Inc., has been pumping fill into Boeung Kak lake.

About 200 villagers from the embattled Beoung Kak lake community on Monday began the first day of a planned weeklong protest in an ongoing attempt to settle with a city developer.

The group plans a weeklong sit-on protest at Freedom Park, the government-sanctioned assembly plaza in Phnom Penh, in hopes of reaching an agreement with Shukaku, Inc., which has been working since 2008 to develop 133 acres of residential and commercial property on a lease from the city.

Residents say the buyout offer from the company is too low, and they do not want to be relocated to inferior sites outside the city. The company has continued to fill the lake area, despite their protests, forcing many from their homes.

“Please come and negotiate with the residents of Boeung Kak,” said Sam Sovanna, one of the leaders for the protesting residents, on Monday.

Residents say they want $1,500 per square meter, or 15 hectares slotted for themselves in the new development.

Protesters waved international flags for the US, Japan, China and Vietnam, and called for the assistance of Prime Minister Hun Sen and of former king Norodom Sihanouk.

“No one from the authorities or from the government has helped them find a solution,” said Ouch Leng, a rights worker for Adhoc.

Neither Shukaku nor city officials could immediately be reached for comment.