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KR civilians tell of life on Phnom Vour

KR civilians tell of life on Phnom Vour

P HNOM LAO, Kampong Trach - Kampot. Dragging pigs, bullocks and dogs, with radio cassettes and televisions in their wooden carts, hundred of Khmer Rouge civilians came down from their mountain stronghold.

They didn't talk about war and terrorism - they talked about a peaceful life growing rice and corn and bananas.

Civilians who lived for years under General Noun Paet smiled for cameras and talked to journalists for the first time.

They defected and left their villages in droves when government forces, with the crucial help of rebel soldiers, captured their base - which even the Vietnamese couldn't capture when they invaded in 1979.

"I have to come down the mountain to surrender to the government... it was heavy shelling from Saturday early morning to night," said Seb Rith, a Khmer Rouge civilian.

On Wednesday morning Oct 26, two days after the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) took the base, 216 families clambered down from the mountain.

The defectors were coy about talking of their military and terrorist activities to reporters at the RCAF base. But they were more forthcoming about their everyday lifestyle.

Lam Kol, a Khmer Rouge resident, described his life and experience on the mountain.

He said he lived for 14 years in Prey Vi village about two kilometers southeast of Phnom Vour with his wife and three children.

He said led a peaceful life of rural bliss under the guerrillas and had not taken up arms for them.

" My family has lived in happiness. I grew rice, corns, sesames, soybeans, bananas , papayas and green beans to support my family," Kol said.

He said every day during the past year he sold his products to villagers living under Royal Government control in Kampong Trach district.

Those villagers always came to Prey Pi to buy my products, he said.

He said that on the mountain there were small, simple markets.

"In each store, I saw flashlight batteries, flip-flops, shoes, boots, sausages, dried fish, smoked fish, fish paste, salt, garlic, chili, pepper, soy sauce, cigarettes and sugar on sale."

"These things were sold in Kampong Trach for money."

He said most families on the mountain had cassettes, radios and televisions - brought from government-controlled villagers - that could receive IBC and TVK broadcasts.

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