The municipality of Phnom Penh is not only forcibly evicting communities from land, it is also removing 90% of the city’s major lake to build luxury apartments and hotels. To do this, water and silt are being pumped into Boeung Kak Lake, purposefully flooding nearby homes in several feet of murky water and causing other homes to collapse into floodwater. Approximately 20,000 people are effected.
I visited Boeung Kak Lake soon after the large pipe began dumping water and silt into the lake. Where ever I travel, when I explain what is happening to Boeung Kak Lake and to the residents around it, no one can imagine how a government can justify flooding its people out of their homes.
The situation is almost unbelievable. The extent to which the government will go to carry out this construction can be seen in this video from WITNESS partner, LICADHO: $79 million for who…?
A win for Boeung Kak Lake residents
A World Bank-funded project initiated in 2002 sought to improve land rights for so many Cambodians left without documentation after 25 years of civil war. The 15-year, US$28 million project would demarcate land and adjudicate disputes to determine land ownership. Residents living near Boeung Kak Lake were part of this project.
This week the World Bank responded to the findings of an independent inspection panel charged to investigate a complaint filed by NGOs working on behalf of Boeung Kak Lake residents. The inspection panel asserted the World Bank mismanaged the project. In particular, the inspection panel cites that more than 4000 families or 20,000 people residing near Boeung Kak Lake were denied due process to have their land title claims sufficiently considered. Half of whom, an estimated 10,000 people, have already been forcibly evicted against World Bank’s policies.
As a result of the complaint, the World Bank publicly admitted that mistakes led to housing violations. The Bank has committed itself to engaging the Cambodian Government and the relevant donor countries/agencies in an attempt to address the grievances of the Boeung Kak Lake residents and other communities at risk of forced evictions that were part of the project.
The Bank also reiterated the call it made in 2009 (then alongside 7 donor countries, the United Nations and others) for a halt to any further forced evictions in the country. If the Government of Cambodia continues not to cooperate, the World Bank will review its lending commitments with the country.
Support the active resistance
For years, communities living near Boeung Kak Lake have lived under intimidation and with threats to accept compensation far below the market value for their homes. Recent protests for the rights of the resident near Boeung Kak Lake (like the one in the video from LICADHO above or this one from BingSpotter) have become more regular.
On 2 March, the municipality issued a fresh eviction notice for several communities near Boeung Kak Lake. Although this government’s deadline has since been extended, the threat of loosing everything looms each day.
- Take action with Amnesty International and write to the Government of Cambodia demanding not to forcibly evict families living around Boeung Kak Lake.
- For the most current information, follow the blog: Save Boeung Kak Campaign and join the Facebook page: Cambodia Evictions Update.
- More Video? The Australian TV program, Dateline, produced an exposé on Boeung Kak Lake.