Brutal Evictions for Commercial Development
|What is affected||
|Type of violation||
|Date||01 November 2001|
|Region||A [ Asia ]|
|Location||Phnom Penh, Poipet, Cambodia|
|Proposed solution||Stop eviction. Authorities provide reparation for those dispossessed, injured and killed.|
- Land area (square meters)
|- Total value|
|- Number of homes|
|- Total value €|
Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)
Source: BBC News\r\nhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5392474.stm|
Human rights activists have warned that forced evictions in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh are spiralling out of control.
A shanty town shack with a sign protesting about evictions
People are being moved to new sites out of the city
In recent weeks, thousands of people have been removed from their homes, and thousands more are set to follow.
As the local authorities make the slum residents leave, property developers are waiting to move in to build luxury apartments and shopping centres.
he official line is that the evictions are necessary for the development of the city.
There are an increasing number of luxury housing projects in various stages of construction in and around Phnom Penh. Prices for each unit run into hundreds of thousands of dollars - well out of the reach of the vast majority of residents.
Estate agents say businessmen and well-connected officials are the main buyers, but at least a quarter of the units on average remain unsold.
By contrast, Phnom Penh’s shanty towns have provided refuge for people at the bottom of the economic pile for at least two decades.
For families getting by on a couple of dollars a day, a bamboo and corrugated-iron shack in a slum is all they can afford.
Living in the city, however, provides the hope of a better life. There are employment opportunities for the adults, and children can go to school.
Some people have lived in the same place for more than a decade, giving them a strong legal claim to own their property - but that has had little effect on preventing evictions.
Village 14 was one of the city’s biggest and longest-established shanty towns.
Hundreds of makeshift dwellings were crammed onto the muddy ground next to the Bassac River. Green sludge collected under the wooden porches of the shacks, and the tang of rotting vegetables mingled with the stench of raw sewage.
Even so, it was still a community. The 1,200 families who lived there had set up an electricity supply, and simple grocery shops operated out of the front of some of the houses. There was even an official neighbourhood office.
All that has gone now.
At first, the residents were full of defiance. They staged a sit-down protest to prevent their homes from being dismantled.
The workers from a property development company that had claimed the land backed off, but their trucks still stood outside the shanty town, ready to shift the residents more than 20km away.
They returned with riot police, and the evictions began.
Soon, just a small huddle of people remained, shivering under blue tarpaulins as the rain came down. Within days, the riot police had moved them out as well - and the land where their homes had stood was enclosed with a green, corrugated-iron fence.
Other long-standing slum communities are facing the same fate.
They have been told the reason for their forthcoming eviction is the beautification of the city.
The municipal authorities say the riverfront land they occupy should be for tourists, government ministries and luxury housing developments.
Meanwhile the former slum dwellers are finding life difficult in resettlement sites outside Phnom Penh which have no running water, mains electricity or sewage.
There are no markets or schools nearby, and the rainy season has caused conditions to deteriorate rapidly.
They use the word development as a pretext for evictions
One elderly woman, Ot Sokoeun, wiped away tears as she explained how difficult it was to cope.
When it rains, my shack is knee-deep in water, because of the poor drainage, she said.
It is really hard to make a living. I could make a dollar and a half by selling some vegetables in the city, but it would cost two dollars to get there and back.
The municipal authorities insist that conditions will improve at the resettlement sites over time.