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Cambodian Housing Demonstrators, Police Clash

People carry a giant model of a house toward police as they protest government-sanctioned evictions, World Habitat Day, Phnom Penh, Oct. 10, 2013.
People carry a giant model of a house toward police as they protest government-sanctioned evictions, World Habitat Day, Phnom Penh, Oct. 10, 2013.
Nine people were injured, three of them seriously, when housing rights demonstrators clashed with police Friday in Cambodia.
 
About 50 evictees from the Borei Keila neighborhood of Phnom Penh ran into about 100 police when they tried to position themselves inside a building development at the site of their former homes.
 
The injured were taken to the offices of the rights group Licadho before they were moved to local health clinics.
 
Am Sam Ath, the chief technical investigator for Licadho, strongly criticized the crackdown.
 
“Cracking down using security forces is a culture of violence. This cannot end the problems that exist,” he said.
 
Borei Keila residents have been in a conflict with the development company, Phanimex, since 2007. 
 
Long Dimanche, a spokesman for the Phnom Penh government, downplayed Friday’s clash.
 
“This is illegal settlement," she said. "We consider this a violation of private property. The owner can file a complaint. We did not want to do harm to people in the community by telling them to leave. There was a scuffle, but not a serious one.”
 
Forced evictions of Cambodia's poor is a sensitive and widespread issue throughout the country.
 
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

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