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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - GRAVES ROBBED

GRAVES ROBBED

GRAVES ROBBED

graves.jpg
graves.jpg

Near Wat Kraong Krang in Pailin, headstones in a Chinese cemetery lie smashed and

burial sites disturbed by recent thievery.

The cemetery dates back to the 1950s and became overgrown during the civil war that

began in 1970.

When Pailin municipality authorities handed the site back to the Khmer Chinese Association

late last year, the association cleared the area and exposed the historic 13,619

square meter graveyard for the first time in three decades.

It didn't take long, however, for thieves to discover the old cemetery and destroy

many of the above-ground tombs in search of the reinforced steel that supported the

concrete structures.

"The families of those buried at the cemetery are very upset," said Lay

Y, president of the Khmer Chinese Association.

Y estimated that 70 percent of the approximately 350 tombs have been destroyed, mostly

by children looking for metal to recycle and adult gem prospectors.

Ly Keangseng, whose great grandparents are buried in the cemetery, said he was sadened

by the destruction and hoped to rebuild his family's tombs.

(Reporting by Sam Rith and Joshua Kraemer)

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