PPP: Airport families seek answers

May 23, Phnom Penh Post, Khouth Sophak Chakrya

More than 100 protesters facing eviction from Por Sen Chey district’s Thmar Kaul community blocked traffic outside Phnom Penh airport yesterday, demanding to be told the exact expansion plans and whether they would be properly compensated if forced to move.

Chray Nim, a community representative, said families feared they could be evicted as soon as next week to make way for the airport expansion.

“We’re so concerned about this,” he said. “We don’t know where we’re supposed to move to, how the company will compensate us and how much the airport will be widened.”

Families have lived in fear of eviction since last year and have staged numerous protests.

Yesterday’s protest, which blocked traffic on Russian Boulevard for an hour, was the first the community has staged at the airport’s entrance.

Eight villagers were detained and later released last November for painting SOS signs on their roofs in the hope of attracting the attention of US President Barack Obama, who was flying into Phnom Penh to attend an ASEAN summit.

Societe Concessionaire de l’Aeroport, or SCA, has a contract to redevelop and expand the airport.

Un Sokny, one of the villagers detained last November, said she welcomed development as long as she was compensated fairly if made to move.

“But, until now, we have not received clear information on this,” she said.

A few hours into the protest, Soy Sokhan, secretary at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, told protesters that the government and company had agreed to form a committee to address concerns.

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