HOMES AND LIVES DESTROYED IN PHNOM PENH
Fighting for basic human rights
A lucrative real estate deal—a planned hotel, business offices, and luxury apartments—has transformed Boeung Kak from the largest lake in Phnom Penh to sand and land fill. Four thousand families were forcibly evicted, their homes and close-knit villages destroyed. Last spring, 13 mothers and grandmothers were sentenced to prison terms for protesting at the development site; the international news media reported on their violent arrests and convictions. Our partner, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), has been at the forefront of civil, social, and political advocacy and government monitoring since the early 1990s and was instrumental in defending, at every step, the rights of the "Boeung Kak 13." (The women were eventually freed.) Evictions and land expropriations in Cambodia often violate basic human rights, yet such cases tend to go unresolved; millions of acres have been developed with limited regulation and legal oversight, at risk of ruining families, small communities, and fouling once vibrant ecosystems. We are actively training and strengthening the advocacy networks of local groups fighting for land reform that is pathbreaking and permanent.