Thursday, January 12, 2012

Borei Keila kids cry corruption

Children evicted from the Borei Keila community last week took part in a protest march in Phnom Penh yesterday. Children who said their school clothes and books were destroyed when their houses were bulldozed in Borei Keila last week shouted slogans about villagers they claimed were corrupt as families marched through Phnom Penh yesterday.

More than 60 families converged on the city centre to make it clear they were refusing land in Srah Po village and Phsar Daek commune that Suy Sophan, the owner of development firm Phan Imex, offered them on Monday.

They also called for the government to release eight residents detained during violent clashes on January 3 and to let them to stay in Borei Keila.

One of the marchers, a 12-year-old girl, said her house had been knocked down last week, and she had not been to school since because her school clothes and books had been destroyed.

She was one of many children who gathered with her parents to shout “corrupt community”, a reference, she said, to Borei Keila residents who had conspired with Phan Imex and authorities to be granted numerous flats at the expense of other families.

Residents set off from Borei Keila and soon split into two groups to avoid being stopped by police. One group walked to the Phnom Penh municipal court, while another trekked to the US Embassy before the two groups joined and marched to the National Assembly.

District police cleared traffic for them as they chanted slogans and waved banners.

Chum Ngann, 39, said the hopes of her children receiving a good education were diminishing because her house had been knocked down and her children had lost their clothes and books. Her family would refuse to move to Srah Po village, because it would be too far away from a school.

“How is my children’s future? No home, no food,” she said, crying.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, yesterday sent a letter to Hun Sen demanding that Phan Imex be held responsible for the students who had missed school because of the evictions.

In 2003, Phan Imex agreed to construct 10 buildings on two hectares of land to house 1,776 families, in exchange for development rights to a remaining 2.6 hectares.