Land IssuesArticle: Tear Gas and Gunfire During Latest Violent Eviction In Cambodia's Capital
February 28, 2008 Early on the morning of 22 February, 2008, more than 100 heavily-armed military police, intervention police and district police officers violently and forcibly evicted 23 households in Banla S'et village, Khmuonh commune, Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh. As a result, four villagers were injured and eight were detained, leaving behind a dismantled community with nowhere to go.
The eviction was carried out less than 24 hours after the community received notice of eviction. Military and police forces arrived shortly after 7.30am, and less than five minutes later, fired two tear gas canisters at residents while simultaneously shooting dozens of AK-47 bullets into the air, in a blatant attempt to intimidate and force the community to leave. Many bullets were also fired directly at a nearby vehicle, which subsequently exploded.
February 25, 2008 On 19 February, 2008, two international human rights organizations and two Cambodian NGOs called upon Cambodian authorities to take effective measures to combat the practice of forced evictions which constitutes a flagrant violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international human rights instruments that the Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified.
February 22, 2008 Cambodian and international human rights organizations are united in condemning two separate violent incidents, which have resulted in blood shed over land in Phnom Penh within the past 48 hours at the Reak Reay and Russey Keo communities. The Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), NGO Forum on Cambodia, LICADHO, Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) and Bridges Across Borders deplore these violent acts and call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to impose an immediate moratorium on evictions until effective legal protections are made available for persons affected by evictions.
About 100 heavily-armed local police and military police on the morning of Friday, 22 February forcibly evicted 23 households. This eviction resulted in injury to at least four villagers, one with a serious head wound, and the arrest of eight others. As part of the eviction, the police fired two tear gas canisters at the residents and fired dozens of AK-47 bullets into the air to intimidate and threaten the community. Numerous gunshots struck a nearby dilapidated vehicle, which had been used to store gasoline, which exploded.
February 19, 2008 Two international human rights organizations and two Cambodian NGOs called today upon Cambodian authorities to take effective measures to combat the practice of forced evictions which constitutes a flagrant violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international human rights instruments that the Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified.
The call was made by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders - a joint programme of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) - along with the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO).
January 23, 2008 LICADHO fears an imminent forced eviction of the Dey Krahorm community in Phnom Penh, and urges the Phnom Penh Municipality and the 7NG company to cancel any such plans.
According to information received from several sources, authorities were planning to use a large number of police and military police to conduct an eviction of Dey Krahorm early this morning. The plan was called off at the last minute, because information about it had leaked, but may have only been delayed until later this week or next week.
LICADHO is deeply concerned that the authorities are considering an eviction, and believes there is no legal basis for such action. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has yet to rule on a lawsuit filed by Dey Krahorm families to assert their land rights, and any eviction ordered prior to a court ruling would be arbitrary and unlawful.
January 22, 2008 This document aims to explain the land case involving the Dey Krahorm community in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was compiled as an advocacy and legal tool to support the families who continue to live on the site and to challenge the legality of the contract which threatens to cost them their land.
The report was researched and written by LICADHO Canada. It is based largely on documents and other information provided by community representatives of Dey Krahorm, and NGO partners involved in the case. LICADHO Canada would like to thank the community representatives and NGOs for providing information, comments and advice throughout the research; specifically Community Legal Education Center [CLEC] and LICADHO.
January 9, 2008 Since the night of Saturday January 5, 7NG company workers and police have persistently attempted to place roadblocks on the two main public streets leading to Dey Krahorm village in Phnom Penh, repeatedly provoking confrontations with community residents which culminated on the night of January 7 with the burning of a truck used in one of the roadblocks. Residents claim that it was 7NG workers themselves who set the truck alight, in order to accuse the community of doing it.
January 8, 2008 The 7NG company and Phnom Penh authorities are deliberately creating an extremely volatile situation through their renewed provocative actions toward the Dey Krahorm community, LICADHO said today.
"This campaign of provocation and harassment of the community must be stopped before it further spins out of control," said LICADHO director Naly Pilorge. "The company and the authorities seem to be playing a very dangerous game of trying to incite disorder by the community at any cost, in order to be able to blame them for whatever occurs."
For the past three nights, 7NG workers and police have persistently attempted to place roadblocks on the two main public streets leading to Dey Krahorm, provoking repeatedly confrontations with community residents which culminated last night with the burning of a truck used in one of the roadblocks. Residents claim that it was 7NG workers themselves who set the truck alight, in order to accuse the community of doing it.
December 4, 2007 LICADHO is deeply concerned by the ongoing provocative actions of the 7NG company toward the people of Dey Krahorm, whom it is trying to evict.
The most recent incident occurred last night when 7NG employees attempted to bring a large mechanical excavator into Dey Krahorm, which provoked an angry reaction from community residents who feared the earth-moving machine would be used to knock down their houses.
About 8pm, a large truck carrying the mechanical excavator stopped on the road outside the south entrance to Dey Krahorm. Local residents gathered along the roadside and asked the 7NG employees not to enter their community land with the excavator at night-time. Ignoring their requests, the truck driver began reversing the vehicle onto the Dey Krahorm land, clearly intending to unload the excavator there. As a crowd of people gathered round, another 7NG employee in the cab of the excavator began moving the machine's mechanical arm in the direction of the crowd - an extremely dangerous act which could have led to injuries.
November 22, 2007 The government and courts must take strong action to investigate and punish police and military personnel responsible for serious abuses - including the alleged execution of a woman in front of her children - during the November 15 land eviction in Preah Vihear province.
According to eyewitnesses, the two people shot dead during the eviction, Mr Oeun Eng, 31, and Mrs Toeun Chheng, 29, were unarmed and posing no threat to the authorities at the time of their shootings.
Mr Oeun Eng was shot in the chest, reportedly by a uniformed man hidden in bushes some distance away, and died almost immediately. Another man standing next to him was shot in the shoulder but survived. The two men were standing amidst a group of people, most of whom leapt to the ground by the authorities began shooting; they may have been shot simply because they were too slow to get to the ground. The fact that both men were shot in the upper body indicates the bullets were fired directly at them.
The death of Mrs Toeun Chheng is even more disturbing. According to further investigation by LICADHO, initial reports that she was shot while protesting the arrest of her husband were incorrect. In fact, according to multiple witnesses, she was shot in cold blood by police while she was alone with her four children at her house.
November 22, 2007 A collection of photos taken the first and second day passed the deadly eviction of 317 families in Preah Vihear
November 16, 2007 LICADHO is gravely concerned by the killings of two people during a land eviction in Preah Vihear province and calls for the government to quickly launch a full investigation into the shootings.
An initial investigation by LICADHO indicates the excessive use of force by the authorities, and the unlawful participation of soldiers in the eviction. In addition, the eviction violated an agreement signed by local authorities stating that the villagers could remain temporarily on the land until a resolution to the dispute was found.
The shootings occurred on the morning of Thursday, November 15, when more than 150 police, military police, soldiers and Forestry Administration officers violently evicted a group of 317 families who had settled on land in Choam Ksan district of Preah Vihear. According to eyewitnesses interviewed by LICADHO, the authorities made no attempt to warn or negotiate with the people on the day of the eviction.
November 7, 2007 At around 4am on November 2, 2007, more than 300 mixed police forces with two mechanical excavators - led by Russey Keo Governor Mr. Khleang Huot - came under the cover of darkness to demolish houses belonging to 132 families living in Chong Chruoy village, Chruoy Changva commune, Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh.
The mixed forces blocked access to the eviction site and prevented human rights workers as well as media from monitoring and reporting on the eviction. During the forced eviction, the authorities confiscated the camera of an observing Member of Parliament, H.E Nou Sarath from the Sam Rainsy Party and two cameras belonging to a staff member of the Housing Rights Task Force, a coalition of NGOs focusing on urban eviction issues.
November 3, 2007 The Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) and The NGO Forum on Cambodia deeply regret the action taken by authorities of Khan Russey Keo to demolish houses and evict 132 families from Chong Chrouy village, Sangkath Chruoy Changva, Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh, on November 2, 2007.
Investigation of this event by civil society organizations disclosed that at approximately 5am, a mixed force of 300 men led by Khan Russey Keo Governor Khleang Huot blocked access to the eviction site to prevent human rights defenders as well as reporters from monitoring and reporting these actions. During this forced eviction, the authorities threatened and confiscated the camera of an observing member of national parliament. In addition, authorities hired workers to destroy people's houses and in doing this arbitrarily looted people's properties.
October 25, 2007 The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) deplores the prison sentence given this week to a community representative involved in a long-running land dispute in Siem Reap.
Despite an overwhelmingly lack of evidence against her, 24-year-old So Socheat was convicted in the Siem Reap Provincial Court on October 22 of committing battery with injury and destruction of private property. Judge Kun Sokhal sentenced her to eight months in prison and a 500,000 riel (US$125) fine.
Although Socheat was accused of assaulting a police officer, the only evidence of battery with injury presented to the court was the opposite - that police officers had in fact beaten Socheat.