Four villagers from Boeung Kak lake were arrested and six were reportedly injured during clashes with municipal police yesterday at a protest at which they demanded that officials hasten the process of granting them land within an onsite relocation area set aside by the government.
Village 22 residents Tep Vanny, 31, Bu Chorvy, 37, and Heng Mom, 55, from Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, were arrested yesterday morning after they gathered outside city hall with about 50 other villagers to seek an explanation as to why they had not yet been issued land titles.
Village 24 resident Kong Chantha, 55, was arrested that afternoon.
“I dare to die here if authorities do not provide a proper solution for our people in the Boeung Kak area,” Kong Chantha said shortly before her arrest.
Protestors caused a traffic jam on Monivong Boulevard, where police beat and stomped on a number of residents. One woman from village 22 cut her left hand with a razor, while a resident of village 24 tried to swallow pills in attempts to pressure authorities into resolving the issue.
The protest dispersed briefly before forming again outside the French Embassy in the afternoon.
Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said yesterday that six protestors were injured by police during the demonstration and that the arrested villagers were still being detained.
At about 6pm, Tep Vanny told the Post via phone from the police station that she and the other three villagers may be held overnight at the municipal police station.
Municipal police chief Touch Naruth could not be reached for comment yesterday, while deputy police chief Pen Roth declined to comment. Hi Prou, deputy municipal police chief in charge of public order, also declined to comment.
Residents from villages 1, 6, 22 and 24 were initially cut out of a 12.44-hectare onsite relocation area granted by Prime Minister Hun Sen to 746 families facing eviction to make way for a real-estate project being developed by Shukaku Inc, a firm run by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin.
Last week, municipal officials told village 22 residents that they would begin the land titling process last Wednesday, but residents claimed that officials have not yet begun.
Heng Mom’s husband Tong Heng, 67, told the Post yesterday that municipal officials said last Monday they would provide land titles to all villagers, but so far they “did not follow their promise”.
Last week, villager Chea Dara reportedly committed suicide amid her despair over what she believed was her pending eviction from the lakeside.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that it was government policy not to permit violence during peaceful demonstrations, but that he was not aware of the details of what occurred at the protest yesterday.