Thai authorities shot a couple dead on Monday and arrested three others - one a 10-year-old girl - while the group was crossing the border from Oddar Meanchey’s Trapang Brasat district to log in Thailand, bringing the number of Cambodians killed there to nine this year.
Srey Naren, provincial co-ordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said yesterday Nget Proem, 34, and his wife Mar Nimol, 48, had been killed by Thai soldiers, who arrested their relatives Sum Eb, 48, and his daughter Saing Romduol, 10, and fellow timber-logger Nai Sokhkea, 28.
“They were crossing the border with the aim of logging rosewood. The couple was gunned down by a group of Thai soldiers who left their corpses in the forest, where they remain,” Naren said.
O’svay village group chief Choeng Chhoeurng said relat-ives had not gone to retrieve the bodies out of fear that Thai soldiers would shoot them too.
“We know a Thai prison official, and he informed us of the case. We are working to get the corpses back to the village,” Chhoeurng said, noting that about half the 90 families in his village crossed the border often in search of rosewood.
“The couple had gone to log about four times before,” he said, noting that villagers sold the illegal wood for $5 to $8 a kilogram. “We try to educate and alert them, but our villagers still take risks to search for timber in Thailand because they have no work.”
Deputy provincial police chief Hang Bou said he was not aware of the deaths, but his department had been working to stop Cambodians crossing into Thailand illegally.
“We are trying to deter them from crossing, but it is not easy because there are many small ways our villagers are able to cross through,” Bou said.
“Oddar Meanchey borders Thailand for a long distance, so it is difficult.”
Adhoc statistics show Oddar Meanchey has the highest incidence of Thai shooting deaths, with 29 cases in 2012.