Eviction Issue: Look to Root Casues of Riot At Tonle Bassac

OPINION Letter to the Cambodia Daily
Published on June 05, 2006
BY: CHAK Sopheap

I write regarding “Villager Continue to Stake Out Tonle Bassac” (Friday, page 12).

With the arrival of rainy season, the situation of these villagers is terribly difficult. Their houses have been removed and NGOs are stopped from contributing food or tents to them. I wonder whey City Hall will solve such problems.

There should have been ready installed infrastructure at the relocation site and clear agreement among villagers before the relocation took place.

I was surprised to hear the Municipal Police Chief say that 10 people would be prosecuted for inciting the riot, and Deputy Municipal Governor Mann Chhoeun saying that villagers might be reeducated. What about the security guard who accidentally injured the 11-year old girl? Will there be any action taken about that?

Re-education will not solve the problem at all. We have to understand the root causes of the problem leading to the riot. Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; education is useless if people have no had their basic needs met (food and shelter).

I suggest that the municipality takes immediate action to find the location for those people, otherwise the situation will worsen. Also, please allow the NGOs to contribute support to the villagers if the municipality cannot meet their needs.

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