[QODLink]
101 East
No place like home
Can progress and justice co-exist in Cambodia, a country where development leaves a trail of destruction?
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2012 05:49

For years, Cambodia's Boeung Kak Lake has been the centre of a David-and-Goliath battle between its residents and the government. Thousands of residents have been forcibly evicted; their homes destroyed for nominal compensation in the name of developing prime real estate in the capital, Phnom Penh.

Connect with 101 East

Locals have cried foul since authorities awarded a 99-year lease to Shukaku Inc - owned by Senator Lao Meng Khin - in 2007 to develop the area, which is home to some 4,000 families. Over the years, villagers who resisted eviction were harassed by security forces and even thugs, often resulting in violent clashes. Those who accepted relocation found themselves in remote areas lacking basic amenities.

The remaining residents witnessed bulldozers turn their neighbourhood into a construction site, as the once scenic lake was filled to make space for a high-end residential and commercial area.

In August 2011, the World Bank halted funding for Cambodia in reaction to the conflict. Under pressure, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered 12.44 hectares of Boeung Kak to be allocated to the remaining families, who were to receive land titles. By then, fewer than 800 families were left.

But there is a sting in the tail - 94 families among them are ineligible for the titles due to the unclear borders of the segmented area. To muddy the waters, Senator Lao's name appears more than 20 times in a list of title applicants.

The community says corrupt officials are trying to make money from land allocated to them. It remains united to fight for those who have been excluded from the list.

101 East reporter Chan Tau Chou covered the issue in 2008 when the lake housed a bustling community. He returns to see the remaining people of Boeung Kak face their stiffest challenge yet - to keep their homes as authorities crack down even more violently on protests.

In a country where the trail of development leaves behind a trail of destruction, Boeung Kak turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Can development and justice co-exist in Cambodia?

 
101 East airs each week at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2230; Friday: 0930; Saturday: 0330; Sunday: 1630.

Click here for more 101 East.

426

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
join our mailing list