Borei Keila residents on Thursday cast a symbolic curse on the people they say are responsible for making their lives a misery since violently evicting them from their homes two years ago.
In the latest development in the long-running dispute, security guards and riot police last week forced residents out of a vacant building they had occupied near the ramshackle tent alley they call home, injuring six people.
On Thursday, about 20 residents called on their spirit ancestors to bring about a solution for them at the Preah Ang Dangker Shrine opposite the Royal Palace, where they placed a bowl of soil from the site on which they live and lit incense.
“We wish to curse the people who took our land; their business must be destroyed and they must no longer live in peace, unless the land is returned to us,” said Pich Limkhuon, a Borei Keila spokesman.
“All of our grandchildren will have difficult lives, because we don’t have any houses to stay in,” he said.
“Therefore, on behalf of our grandchildren, we would like to file a complaint with the King of Hell and also the spirits of Preah Ang Dangker to find justice for all of us,” he added.
On the receiving end of such justice, he said, should be businesswoman Suy Sophan, whose Phanimex firm was granted 2.6 hectares of the villagers’ land in 2007, but failed to honor an agreement to rehouse all of them. Of the more than 1,000 families affected by the land deal, about 150 families are now in limbo.
He said villagers want to be given 4,300 square meters of the land so that they can build proper houses. ‘We have asked the authorities to help us, but they never have.”
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the municipality is willing to build temporary shelters for those who want them.
“We have given these people time to discuss and let us know how many families need houses and how many want land,” he said.
© 2014, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.