Land activists banned from gathering

Source: Khmer Times

City Hall said the gathering would affect public order. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Civil society organisations and about 100 people involved in land disputes were unable to mark World Habitat Day in Phnom Penh yesterday after City Hall refused permission for them to gather.

Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khuong Sreng sent a letter to citizen representatives saying the proposed celebrations posed a risk to security and public order.

“If there is a gathering to mark this event it will threaten security and public order, and the organisers will be responsible under the law,” he said.

The communities that planned to mark the 32nd World Housing Day included locals from Borei Keila, Koh Kong and Kratie, as well former Boeung Kak residents.

Former Boeung Kak resident Im Srey Touch said they wanted to celebrate World Housing Day under the theme “Housing Rights are Human Rights”.

The event would have allowed communities to express their concerns over the loss of land and housing, she added.

“We did not mark it, because City Hall stopped us. Even though we did not carry out the event, district security forces came to monitor us,” she said.

Last week citizens facing land issues in Kampong Chhnang province’s Lor Peang community marked World Housing Day in their own community, under monitoring from local authorities.

Also last week, residents involved in land disputes in Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila and Kandal province’s Phnom Bat communities held a separate event at Borei Keila community.

Officials from the 7 Makara district authority confiscated miniature model homes made by the communities for destruction.

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