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Ousted Residents of Dey Krahorm Rally at Old Site

Former residents of Phnom Penh's Dey Krahorm community gathered at the site where they were evicted two years ago Monday. Residents say they continue to live in inadequate relocation sites far from the city and its services.

About 300 former residents of a Phnom Penh squatter community who were evicted two years ago Monday, gathered at their former neighborhood to call for a change in government.

The residents of the neighborhood, known as Dey Krahorm, called for Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down from power, claiming they had been forcefully evicted and moved to inadequate relocation sites.

The demonstrators said in a statement that on Jan. 24, 2009, 144 house owners and their families had been “violently and cruelly” evicted by Phnom Penh security forces and 500 paid employees of the 7NG developer, which laid claim to the site.

Those families were “forced to accept” housing in Damnak Troyeung village, Choam Chao commune, Dangkor district, but many have had to come back to Phnom Penh to seek work, the statement said.

“This is because the relocation site is far away from employment, they cannot afford to connect to electricity, there is no access to public services, [the site is] far away from school for their children, [has] no clean water system, no drainage system and no safety and security,” the statement said.

Another 400 families are now living “under ragged tarpaulins” near Udong mountain, where “many children are infected with viruses,” due to a lack of clean water, health center, food and sanitation, the statement said.

Prolonged dissatisfaction with the conditions have angered many residents.

“Stop allowing him to have power,” former resident Dul Chantha, 53, said of Hun Sen on Monday. “Because when he’s in this position, the poor people are going toward death. I’m not afraid to say that, because I’m fed up the Cambodian government, which became a nightmare on Jan. 24, 2009.”

“Right now I’m living in the new location site worse than an animal,” he said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said only an election can change the prime minister.

“What the people are calling for is an abuse of democracy in Cambodia,” he said. “People may have received this idea from others, calling for the step down in power. They should rethink what the government does and continue their work right now.”