Dey Krahorm, which means “red soil,” was a poor community that was initially settled in the mid-1980s. A considerable percentage of the population was made up of musicians, dancers and artists. The Ministry of Culture gave them the land in the early 1990s in an attempt to reestablish the country’s creative community because the Khmer Rouge wiped out so many artisans or sent them fleeing abroad. The other residents generally earned meager wages as construction workers, taxi drivers or market vendors.

The 3.6 hectare plot sat just south of Cambodia’s National Assembly, and is estimated to be worth $44 million, according to Bonna Reality, a leading Phnom Penh real estate company.

On Jan. 24, 2009, hundreds of civilian and military police used tear gas, fire hoses, fire extinguishers, metal batons, backhoes, bulldozers and 300 demolition workers to clear about 500 people from Dey Krahorm community to make way for a private developer. At least 24 people were injured and hundreds of those residents now live in a makeshift refugee camp with no running water or electricity.

| Text by Katie Nelson |

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