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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The aiyong are everywhere!

The aiyong are everywhere!

ANDONG BEI - Aiyong is a popular saying among the Khmer Rouge. Khmer for "puppet",

aiyong is still the first word to reach the lips of recent rebel defectors to describe

government soldiers that have visited their areas in past weeks.

Children at this small village 8km south of Anlong Veng point and shout "aiyong!"

at their new allies, much to the discomfort of both armies fighting against Ta Mok's

dwindling band of hardcore rebels.

"The people are uneducated, especially the children. They don't have time to

study because they are busy with their families making sharp bamboo sticks,"

explains Khon, a soldier from a newly defected division.

Khon adds that he is concerned government troops will become angry at the liberal

use of the word, but hopes they will understand that aiyong is a word villagers have

heard from the mouths of their leaders and over Khmer Rouge radio from the day they

were born.

The conversational vocabulary of the jungle revolutionary also includes: yuon (racial

slur for a Vietnamese); koan yong ("puppet child" - a CPP soldier); koan

ra (a Funcinpec resistance soldier, named for his camouflage uniform, or para); and

koan cheat ("nationalist child" - a Khmer Rouge soldier).

General Chea Man, commander of Military Region 4, said he has noticed former rebel

villagers' broad use of aiyong and will ask the leaders of the defectors to clarify

the use of the term to their people. But government commanders have in some cases

earned their nicknames.

To keep sensitive communications from being intercepted by their enemies, and perhaps

even their new friends, RCAF radio operators often speak over their ICOMs in Vietnamese.

"Yuon!" whisper the children, poking fingers at their friends for confirmation

after one commander spoke over his radio.

The RCAF commander turns and jokes with the children after his message is sent, saying

later that he has made an effort to make the young ones not fear him.

He wants them to understand that he is really Khmer like they are.

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