Last Saturday, Jinja received the following text messages:
Jan 24, 2:45 AM: Both Roads have been closed. So far approximately 70 MP and one hundred breakers. MP on roof of building and close in group 78. Around twenty monitors and media on inside. Two and a half hours to sun rise. Pls send out update and put on face book eviction group.
LICADHO: From colleagues who just arrived in DK site: there are about 250 mixed armed police incl riot police, two water trucks, more than 250 workers in blue & white shirts with sticks, hammers, axes and many transport trucks.
Bridges Across Borders: Dey Krahom is being forcibly evicted right now. Please come if you can and pass this info on to everyone you know.
Dey Krahorm community in Phnom Penh was demolished last Saturday. An estimated 800 to 1,400 residents lived in Dey Krahorm in 2005. The city estimated that only 90 families have remained in the community.
Aside from the violence which accompanied the action, the demolition attracted media attention because it was “one of the biggest urban redevelopment stories in the capital over the last decade.” But city officials denied the action was an eviction:
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said the action was not an eviction. “The activities of tearing down the homes at Dey Krahorm is not an eviction but just an effort to clear the area for development.”
Demolition of Dey Krahorm community
Jivy was able to witness the demolition last weekend:
“Loud pounding noises woke me up this morning. Startled where the noise is coming from I looked out of my window and saw hundreds of men wearing green shirt, hammering the small houses in front of the building where my whole family live. It’s my first time to encounter scenes like this and it sent goosebumps all over me. There were lots of police men guarding the site and hundreds of spectators from their homes watched how their fellow Cambodians ruined other people’s houses in a small span of time
“One by one the houses are torn down, I have seen smoke from afar but dunno if it’s teargas or fire extinguisher. I have seen residents standing with their houses shouting angrily to the demolition team, some residents were even hurt because they don’t want to move out and forced to fight with the uniformed men.
“I don’t know the whole story behind this horrifying scene, I don’t know if the land is under the government or under a private individual. All i know is that there are people out in the street this morning asking for some more time to discuss this matter before proceeding with the demolition. But people with no hearts didn’t listen.”
KI-Media was able to interview residents from the Dey Krahorm community:
The woman then screamed at intervention police officers, “You are Cambodian, but want to kill Cambodians. You destroyed my house. You're like gangsters.”
A Dey Krahorm resident sits on the remains of her home as she waits for a truck to transport her to a new location. “I have no money,” she said. “What can I do? I don't know where I will sleep. I can't do anything because they destroyed everything.”
Pictures courtesy of Jinja
Tripping in Cambodia is angry “at the complete lack of regard for human rights and the necessities of human life”:
Last week I walked around a community called Dey Krahorm. Today that community no longer exists. Last week I called out greetings to the kids playing outside their homes. Today those children have no home. Last week I invaded their land with a smile of friendship and a word of support. Today, their space was invaded by hundreds of soldiers and riot police, with tear gas and bulldozers. And today, they have no land.
This morning I watched in horror as hundreds of police surrounded Dey Krahorm. Later I heard the story of horror from inside the community. Bulldozers tearing down houses as the residents, the legal owners, scrambled to retrieve their belongings. 150 families, many of whom have lived in this area for 25 years, are suddenly and brutally rendered homeless.
I am angry at the complete lack of regard for human rights and the necessities of human life, a lack of regard for due legal process because these people are poor and powerless and the company wanting to acquire the land is rich and powerful.
Samphors, commenting on the blog A Photo Diary, has a different view:
“I believe they were well informed and properly compensated. But it’s more likely that they refused to take it and asking for more than what they deserve. On top of that, they are not the owner of the land. The rightful owner shall take back their land for the sake of a country development. I’m talking with my past experience to the similar case only. Pardon me if this is different.”
The Facebook group: Cambodia Evictions Update has 176 members. More pictures of the demolition can be accessed through Flickr and Jivy’s multiply page. Check the video below which features the Dey Krahorm community: