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No Response, as Sit-In Protest Passes Second Day

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

Protesters sat for the second day at Freedom Park on Tuesday, shouting into loudspeakers and demanding fair compensation from a city developer for their land. But they mostly shouted to each other.

No city officials or company representatives came to meet with them.

Residents at the Boeung Kak lake development site say they want $1,500 per square meter for a buyout, or 15 hectares of the 133-hectare development, a demand the developer, Shukaku, Inc., has refused.

Residents say they will sit at Freedom Park, in the shadow of one the largest bank building in the country, Canadia, for a week in search of mediation.

“There have been no government officials, no lawmakers, to come see what we need,” said Ly Mom, a representative of the residents.

The protesters sit on the ground, roped in by nylon cord, calling out for intervention from Prime Minister Hun Sen, former king Norodom Sihanouk, and countries like China, Japan and the US.

“We insist that [Phnom Penh] Governor Kep Chuktema come and discuss this with us to find a positive result,” Ly Mom said.

Shukaku, which will develop the lake area after it is filled in, has offered $8,500 to families. Some have been forcibly removed. Others have stayed, even as their houses are flooded from lake overflow while Shukaku dredgers pump sand and mud from the bottom of the Tonle Sap river into the lake.

Protesters say they have asked for meetings with the governor five times and sent four letters for help to Hun Sen, to no avail. One said he would “better die at home than to leave.”

City officials declined to comment on Tuesday, as they have in the past.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the protesters “can file a complaint with the court if they do not obtain any result.”

However, Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said it was the government's “responsibility” to settle the problem.