Thursday, January 29, 2009

So What Can We Do?

Last Saturday I witnessed a human rights travesty, the forced eviction of Dey Krahorm, prompting me to write to inform you and others and ask for prayer. It was really inspiring to spend the next few days receiving emails of solidarity. Two recurring themes in these letters were of a sense of powerlessness in the face of such brutal disregard for the rights of the weak and a desire to act.

I share that feeling of powerlessness and I also share the belief that even if our actions seem to make little difference we still must act. To be compassionate people we need to do acts of compassion. So what can be done?

LICADHO is a human rights organization in Cambodia that has been attempting to advocate for this community and others in similar situations for a number of years. The following is an extract of an email the director of LICADHO, Naly, sent out two days after the eviction:

“Approximately 38 Dey Krahorm families are living in our offices, 213 Dey Krahorm villagers and relatives are also coming for meals, medical care, legal advice, photocopies and material assistance since Saturday. Hundreds of others, many of them who were Dey Krahorm renters, were dumped shortly after the eviction along the road to the new site or on the new “resettlement site” 16 km from Phnom Penh.

“Humanitarian NGOs and several LICADHO staff have gone to see the new site, the houses are unfinished, there are no roofs, toilets or kitchens. The site has no basic infrastructure, lacks drinking water and has no schools, health clinics or markets are nearby. Only about 27 families have been able to acquire houses.

“The DK families living in our offices are attempting to continue negotiating with the municipality and 7NG company to obtain adequate compensation as they do not want to move to the new “resettlement site”. There have also been groups coming in during the weekend that are sleeping on the streets of Phnom Penh.”

Naly also informed me that LICADHO have emergency funds available for one week only but are anticipating a much greater demand in order to ensure these families receive the basic necessities of life. If you would like to donate to LICADHO to provide food, shelter, blankets and clothing to the victims, you can do so on the LICADHO website here.

Also please write to your government (Minister of Foreign Affairs) informing them of this human rights abuse. It is unacceptable and it is vital that the global community communicates to the Cambodian government the unacceptability of events like this.

If you require more information have a look at these websites:
Photos of the eviction
More photos of the eviction (our team leader is in the blue jacket, first row, second from the top)
About the eviction
Everything you need to know about Dey Krahorm before the eviction
About NZAID to Cambodia

Thanks for your support and prayers.

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