Phnom Penh’s water fishing community faces eviction

Phnom Penh, Cambodia-Wednesday morning, Mannean stood on the bank where the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers meet on the eastern side of Phnom Penh. Most days of this time she went fishing with her husband, but today Man Nairn gathered with her neighbor under a buzzing canopy to discuss an eviction order from the local government.

Their view is the same as that of the 5-star Sokha Hotel, which rises directly above and behind the Chroy Changvar Peninsula. On the other side of the river, the pre-World War I royal palace, with its formal French-influenced gardens, presides over a skyline surrounded by tall cranes and tall buildings.

The hotel has elegantly furnished air-conditioned rooms with Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV, overlooking the wooden huts and fishing boat settlements of many Khmer Muslims. Cham, And a Vietnamese family lives in it.

Marn Neang has spent more than 40 years on the riverbank for 49 years and has survived the blessings of the river. She lives on a fishing boat with her husband and five children. Not so long ago, she built a four-square-meter hut for her mother-in-law, despite being ordered to relocate many times by members of the community.

However, this move was on June 12th.

On June 2, Phnom Penh City Hall issued an eviction notice to residents of houses, storks and small houseboats on Lake Tonle Sap, the Mekong River and the nearby Bassac River.

At the time, Klaing Hout, governor of the Chroy Changvar district, did not say what would happen or how authorities were planning to expel people living along the river. According to VOA Khmer..

Irregular construction on June 9, 2021 near the banks of the Mekong River in the Sunkat Croy Chamber in Khan Croy Chamber, Phnom Penh. (VicheikaKann / VOA)

“In principle, this is not a move,” he said. “Relocation means moving from one place to another. For now, this does not allow residence in rivers, fishing grounds, or the area. This is related to environmental issues. . “

According to the notice, this order was issued to maintain the ecology and water quality of the river and improve the aesthetics of the city. Since then, it remains unclear what will happen to those who refuse to leave the river house. City officials have stated that they will take administrative action, and if residents resist, the next step is to file a legal complaint against them.

VOA Khmer asked Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng and Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Meth Measpheakdey for comment, but neither responded.

Sangkat Chroy Changva Irregular construction on June 9, 2021 near the banks of the Mekong River in the Sunkat Croy Chamber in Khan Croy Chamber, Phnom Penh. (VicheikaKann / VOA)

Phay Siphan, a spokesperson for the Cambodian government, said the decision by the local government was “in compliance with the Cambodian National Assembly and not motivated by politics or discrimination against anyone.”

Marn Neang told VOAKhmer he didn’t know what would happen. “We need to get rid of both the hut and the boat,” she said she couldn’t afford to relocate or buy land. She is also worried that she will continue to feed her family if she is not fishing in the river and that she will not be able to return to school that her children know.

“No matter how bad we are, we are used to living here,” she told VOA Khmer. “I don’t know where to go”

And because of the fear of COVID-19, people in nearby villages do not move her on a family boat. “It’s very difficult. I don’t know what to do with five children.”

Mann Nairn added that she would like to request a small land from the authorities if she was not allowed to live on the water. But she dared not make a request.

Sangkat Chroy Changva On June 9, 2021, a man sits on a fishing boat on the Mekong River in the Sunkat Croy Chamber in Khan Croy Chamber, Phnom Penh. (VicheikaKann / VOA)

Curly 66-year-old Matt Zen was repairing a fishing boat while talking to VOA Khmer. He lives on a boat with three children and said he couldn’t afford to move unless authorities found him a new place.

“My house is on a boat. I sleep here, eat here and make a living here,” Matt Zen told VOA Khmer. “If they want me not to leave the boat and live in the boat, I’m poor and I don’t have the money to buy land, so the government has to provide a place for me. Hmm.”

In the Reussey Keo district, about 10 km north of the Chroy Changvar Peninsula, authorities have already dismantled floats and illegal fish farms.

Say soca Sai Sokha, a resident of the Sangkat Chrang Chamres II floating house in Khan Lassi Kaew, Phnom Penh, June 5, 2021. (Malis Tum / VOA)

Saisoka, 59, who lives in the district, grows a morning glory around a 30-square-meter floating house. She is Cambodian and lives with a Vietnamese husband and a teenage granddaughter suffering from meningitis.

Saisoka spoke to VOA Khmer when she returned from selling morning glory in the market and was ordered to evict the peasants, but said she couldn’t move a week ago, even if she paid to help her move. ..

“I wait for others. I’m old. What can I do? If they want to destroy my house tomorrow, let them do it themselves.

Her neighbor, Oum Sreypich, lives in a floating house smaller than Sai Sokha with four children and a family of two. Packing is in progress and a stack is waiting to move out of the water in the corner. Staying away from the water will be a challenge.

“When you live in a river you have free access to water. Electricity isn’t a big deal, so when you move to the ground you have to pay for all the utilities, food and sleeping places. No. I can’t afford them. “Aum Srey Pitch said.

Tonle Sap River On June 9, 2021, a fishing boat is anchored near the Tonle Sap Riverbank in the Sunkat Croy Chamber in Khan Croy Chamber, Phnom Penh. (VicheikaKann / VOA)

Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh, Vietnam Express disappointment via Facebook The day after the city hall issued an eviction notice.

According to the ambassador, about a thousand families from Vietnam live in water houses in Phnom Penh, seeking the impossibility of ordering them to leave within seven days. He pointed out that the family was a poor Vietnamese and Khmer Islamic family, adding that all had legal residence permits and many had lived in the river for generations. Even without surge In the case of COVID-19, he added that it would be difficult to move.

Sun Senkarona, a spokesman for the local rights group Adhook, said he supported the eviction order for peasants, but authorities listened to requests from the river people and gave them enough time to relocate. Should be given.

“If you’re in a hurry or abusing their rights, that’s not a good solution … so you need proper discussion and negotiation,” he said.

But so far, there are orders to evict. And as for Mann Nairn, as she says, she needs to “float like water lettuce, with no clear direction or end, just follow the wind.”

Phnom Penh’s water fishing community faces eviction

Source link Phnom Penh’s water fishing community faces eviction

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