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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Less than an animal

Less than an animal

Less than an animal

Twenty-four years ago I faced the possibility of being executed, if I was unlucky.

My life was worth less than an animal.

In the 1977 dry season, those plowing the rice fields worked very hard, as other

surviving Cambodians. At that time, one of my buffaloes got lost and the team leader

urged me to search for it. If not found, my life was in danger. I told my friend

in the team to help me in keeping and feeding the other buffalo during my absence

from the work force.

I left the team and from dawn to dusk went searching for the lost buffalo at earlier

plowing places in the team's areas of responsibility.

One night with a half moon I heard cries of a herd of wild boars, around 10 in number.

I kept advancing slowly, keeping an axe firmly in my hand, shouting and jumping with

all my force. At once the boars fled in all directions. I spent a night in a v-shaped

branch of a tree, tying myself to the limb so I would not fall out, with my axe nearby.

The fear of dying was more than the fear of being alone in the forest at night.

After not finding the buffalo after five days, the team leader spoke to me furiously,

saying that my life was tangled up. He allowed me two more days, during which I ate

whatever I could: rice, maize, potatoes or tree leaves. At dusk on the seventh day

I recognized the horns of my beloved buffalo. I was so happy as it meant my life

had been saved.

As I have shared my ideas earlier, such as Mr Youk Chhang, I want and hope that the

perpetrators will be put behind steel bars.

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