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Lake Residents Amass Petition for Onsite Housing

A man walks among the rubble of houses almost removed on the edge of Boeung Kak, Phnom Penh's largest lake. The man and other residents of the area are being evicted from their homes to make way for upscale villas and office buildings.

Residents facing the threat of eviction in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake development have collected 1,500 thumbprints on a petition supporting their plans for onsite housing there.

The residents are pushing for their own plan and rejecting a counter-offer from the city, along with a buyout from developer Shukaku, Inc., they say is below market value.

The petition drives comes as the UN’s special human rights envoy for Cambodia, Surya Subedi, arrives in Phnom Penh for an assessment of the country’s rights environment, including the pressing issue of forced evictions.

Tep Vanny, a representative of lake residents, told VOA Khmer on Monday the 1,500 families represented on the petition want city authorities to resolve the development dilemma with onsite housing.

“Our thumbprints are very important in showing our last stance, what [we] really want,” she said.

The plan calls for a minimum 4-meter-by-16-meter house for each family, at ground level, depending on the size of the home a family now house in the proposed 133-hectare development site. It is a rejection of an earlier city plan for housing at another site.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Noun Sameth said the residents must make their demands clear and “concrete,” criteria that Tep Vanny said the residents are meeting.

The petition will be submitted to the city on Tuesday, Tep Vanny said.

“We’re pushing the government to stop continuous delays in solving the issue for Boeung Kak residents, because now it is the rainy season,” he said. “”When there’s a flood, we will not have a place to live.”