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Logger killed at border: police

The parents of 16-year-old Yon Rith speak to journalists about the death of their son, who was allegedly burned alive by Thai soldiers.

... Now [the thai soldiers] are
shooting our people. it’s very cruel.

IN DATES Shootings on the Thai border
September 11
Yon Rith, a 16-year-old illegal logger from Oddar Meanchey’s Samrong district, is reportedly shot and burned alive by Thai soldiers. Another teenager is also shot in the attack.
October 18
The Thai embassy in Phnom Penh responds for the first time to allegations that Yon Rith was burned alive, calling them false. “The Thais are not happy with this report,” an official says.

November 2
Pouth Nin, a 22-year-old man from Trapaing Prasat district sustains a gunshot wound to his right leg after Thai soldiers open fire on him during an illegal logging excursion.

December 5
A group of 13 illegal loggers from Trapaing Prasat district is attacked by Thai soldiers, and 19-year-old Meas Oun dies from his wounds. His body is returned three days later.

December 8
Phlok Lai, 55, is shot and killed by Thai soldiers after crossing the border into Sisaket province, and Cheng Channy, 30, sustains serious injuries in the attack. Another logger is still missing.

A55-YEAR-OLD man from Trapaing Prasat district, Oddar Meanchey province, was killed by Thai soldiers Tuesday night while on a logging expedition – the second time this month that an illegal logger from the district has been slain after crossing the border into Sisaket province, police said.

Phlok Lai was one of 10 men on the expedition, Trapaing Prasat district police chief Keo Tann said Thursday. A second man, Cheng Channy, 30, sustained serious injuries, and a third, Phal Sokha, 20, fled as the troops opened fire and is still missing in Thailand. The other seven men made it safely to Cambodia, Keo Tann said.

“The Thai officers at the border said they would find the missing man if we ordered people to refrain from going to Thailand to log illegally,” Keo Tann said.

Phlok Lai’s body was returned via the Chom border crossing on Thursday, and his family planned to hold a funeral service that afternoon. Phal Sokhorn, the son-in-law of Phlok Lai and the older brother of Phal Sokha, said he planned to cross the border into Thailand to look for his brother after his father-in-law’s body was cremated.

“I don’t know if my younger brother is alive or not, because no one has any information on him,” he said. “But he has never left home and his family for such a long time. I will try to find him, whether he is dead or alive.”

Meas Oun, a 19-year-old man from Trapaing Prasat, ventured into Sisaket province on Friday as part of a group of 13 illegal loggers, and was shot and killed the following day.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Thursday that the border attacks had caused him “great suffering”.

“In previous years, the Thai military would just arrest our people who were illegally crossing into the border and sentence them to jail, sometimes for six or nine years. But now they are shooting our people. It’s very cruel,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested that the Ministry of Interior instruct villagers not to venture into Thailand because of the
recent wave of attacks, the most notorious of which came in September, when 16-year-old Yon Rith was reportedly shot and burned alive.

Oddar Meanchey Governor Pich Sokhin said he had repeatedly tried to advise people in the province not to log illegally in Thailand, but that economic imperatives often led them to ignore his advice.

He also said many of the illegal loggers were from other provinces. “Most of these people are from provinces such as Kampong Cham, Kratie and Kampong Speu,” he said.

Also Thursday, Heng Chenda, 35, a villager from Trapaing Prasat district’s Preah Pralay commune, died after stepping on a land mine while trying to cross the border to log illegally, commune Chief Yun Ny said.



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