Thursday, March 24, 2011

Save Boeung Kak Lake Residents from Eviction

Press Release

March 25, 2011

“Save Cambodia’s Boeung Kak Lake Residents from eviction,” chanted a group of urban poor protesting in front of Cambodia Embassy on Friday. These groups belong to LOCOA (Leaders and Organizers of Community Organizations in Asia), an Asian regional network of urban poor organizations.

This mobilization is a show of solidarity with the people of Boeung Kak Lake amid mounting criticisms over forced displacements in Cambodia. Through LOCOA, Task Force Anti-Eviction (TFAE) in the Philippines and other Asian country members, were able to monitor evictions in Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh, Cambodia since it started in 2009.

(Task Force Anti-Eviction (TFAE) is composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE))

UPA deputy coordinator Ted Añana said, “We were informed that the remaining lake residents were harassed to leave their homes to make way for high rise buildings and shopping centers.”

LOCOA’s research show that under the 2001 Cambodian Land Law, the Boeung Kak Lake residents have a legitimate claim on the land they have been occupying since the early 1980s. The people are also proposing a land sharing scheme that will allow them to use less than 12 percent of the entire 133 hectares of the project. The lake residents view this as a win-win solution.

In a letter to Governor Kep Chuktema of Phnom Penh, TFAE member Jose Morales said, “We ask you then as Governor of Phnom Penh, to put an end to the threats of eviction and intimidation of residents who have been asserting their rights and resisting evictions. Please recognize the Boeung Kak Lake people’s proposed land sharing scheme and let them participate in the development planning process of the Boeung Kak Lake project.”

On March 21, Monday, LOCOA members in Bangkok, Thailand staged protest demonstrations at the Cambodian and Chinese embassies. But to their dismay, no representatives from the two embassies accepted their letters. They ended up stapling their letters on one of their banners with messages “Listen to the People!” “Open negotiations on land sharing on Boeung Kak Lake!” and hanged them in the embassies’ entrance.

On March 23, a group of urban poor in Dhaka, Bangladesh also showed their solidarity with the Boeung Kak Lake residents by rallying in front of Cambodian embassy. Other Locoa members in Korea, Indonesia, and Mumbai are preparing mass actions in support of Boeung Kak Lake residents.

Añana concluded, “Massive evictions are happening in Asian countries and we believe that if the people of Asia unite to stop eviction, there is a great possibility that Asian governments will observe the housing rights of the poor.” -30-

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