Unesco listing for Phnom Kulen spells unease for residents

Communities on Phnom Kulen. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160705

A recent announcement to include Phnom Kulen in the Angkor World Heritage property means an uncertain future for the some 300 people who live on the mountain.

Communities on Phnom Kulen. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160705
Communities on Phnom Kulen. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160705

UNESCO push will clear villagers off of Kulen Mountain
Phnom Penh Post, 05 July 2016

Hundreds of villagers living on Siem Reap’s historic Phnom Kulen are reeling after the government announced they would be relocated as part of a scheme to secure a UNESCO World Heritage Listing for the site.

Poung Lyna, the head of the Siem Reap environment department, yesterday confirmed the news villagers received over the weekend. “About 300 families, most of which are army and newcomers’ families who live near the Preah Ang Thom area on Kulen Mountain, will be relocated to a new place soon as their presence is affecting the environment of the national park,” Lyna said.

However, he added that those who had “lived there a long time” – upwards of 20 years – would not be moved. But uncertainty shrouds the ministry’s plans, with Lyna admitting he did not know when the villagers would be moved, or to where. However, he claimed it would be near their former homes.

“They will maybe be moved to the foot of the mountain, and we might give them a piece of land larger than what they currently have,” he said, making no mention of monetary compensation. “We will move their houses, but we will keep their businesses on the mountain untouched.”

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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