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Local Authorities Give Borei Keila Holdouts Brief Reprieve From Impending Eviction

Cambodian security forces confront former of Borei Keila residents in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, January 3, 2017. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

Evictees argue that the new property will cause a significant dent in their already modest incomes.

Local officials in a Phnom Penh district have extended the deadline for the last remaining residents of the Borei Keila neighborhood to leave before facing forced eviction at the hands of the authorities.

A previous deadline for the residents to leave passed last week. Borei Keila became the focus of one of Phnom Penh’s most prominent land disputes after the land was bought by the Phanimex company for development.

On December 8, the 7 Makara district deputy governor, Mean Chanyada, released a statement saying that about 10 percent of the Borei Keila community had not accepted compensation offers and could be forced to move when the December 22 deadline was reached and would forfeit their rights to compensation.

One of the residents, Sar Sorn, 58, said Chanyada had given them a two-week extension. One of the main outstanding issues preventing residents from accepting compensation, she said, is that the company has allegedly not stuck to its promises to construct 10 buildings for evictees to relocate to. “If we protest, they will sue us,” she said.

Compensation offers range from $3,000 to $5,000 or a small apartment on the outskirts of the city. Evictees argue that the new property will cause a significant dent in their already modest incomes.

Residents, however, remain defiant despite the threat of the use of force by the authorities. “We are determined to confront them because we cannot accept that little in compensation. So we will not leave. We all agreed we will go to court again,” she said.

A City Hall spokesman declined to comment.

Borei Keila was the site of a mass demolition in January 2012 when the city and Phanimex sent in troops and irregular security forces to drive residents out of their homes.

Many of the residents who remain in Borei Keila have been forced to sleep on a waste dump and in abandoned buildings as they have lost their homes but have nowhere to go.