Villagers protest evictions

Source: Khmer Times

The Apsara Authority has dismantled 109 illegal structures since Thursday. Supplied

About 50 people representing 100 villagers living in Zone 1 and 2 of the Angkor Archaeological Park yesterday gathered in front of Siem Reap provincial hall to demand that the Apsara Authority stop dismantling their homes.

The residents were given multiple warning to remove the homes themselves and then the Apsara Authority began dismantling them last week, claiming the structures were illegal and could affect the heritage status of the park.

More than 500 structures sprung up before the June 4 commune elections, with most villagers getting permission to build from village and commune officials.

The Apsara Authority says it is the only one that can grant building permits in the park and the illegal structures must be removed.

Bun Heng, who joined the protest yesterday, said villagers were facing debts from money borrowed to build their homes and wanted more time to gather funds before their homes are dismantled.

“We went to the provincial hall to ask the authorities to delay the demolition because some people who constructed new homes borrowed money from the bank to build, so they want more time to solve their debts,” Mr Heng said.

Oun Neath, another resident, said she never received notice from the Authority that she must demolish her home.

“I heard that they went to demolish other houses near Angkor,” she said. “I also live in the Angkor area. My old house was renovated and I am afraid for the demolition of my house.”

Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Ly Samrith said authorities would review some cases and possibly issue extensions in special circumstances.

But, for the areas that can significantly affect heritage, there would be no pardons, Mr Samrith added.

“I have prepared a request for the Apsara Authority, but some areas will not be given an extension because they were notified many times already.”

According to the Apsara Authority, 109 illegal structures have been dismantled since Thursday. Another 44 will be removed by owners voluntarily.

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