NEARLY 7,000 Khmer Rouge soldiers and militia defected last year, according to
latest Ministry of Defense figures.
A total of 6,624 KR - 4,922
guerrillas and 1,702 village militia - gave themselves up to government
authorities between January and December.
Nearly a quarter of them -
1,585 - came in the last half of December, as the government's amnesty program
reached its height.
The defections have continued in the New Year, with
372 KR fighters switching sides in the first six days of January, in the run-up
to the end of the amnesty on Jan 15.
Along with last year's defectors
came a total of 1,259 families, with 5,036 civilians, who had been living in
The provinces with the highest number of
defections last year were Siem Reap, Kampot, Kompong Speu and Kompong Cham.
Some 3,736 weapons - ranging from old rifles to artillery pieces-were
surrendered by KR who defected.
Meanwhile, 2,970 former KR soldiers have
got posts within the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces since October 1993, according
to a separate set of ministry figures.
They included three
Brigadier-Generals, nine Colonels, 30 Lieutenant Colonels, 39 Majors and 120
The remaining defectors had abandoned their military career to
join their families, said Colonel Say Khon, director of a RCAF national training
center for defectors.
The center, in Kien Svay district of Kandal
province, about 20km south of Phnom Penh, had overseen the training of 1,725
defectors since it was established in September 1993. Other defectors had gone
straight into the RCAF without training.
Col Khon said seven courses for
defectors had been held, five at the center and one in Siem Reap and
The course, lasting three months, covered subjects such as
Cambodia's constitution and government, human rights, army regulations and
Teaching them how to fight was not necessary.
of them are good fighters, so we don't need to train them in military
strategies, "he said.
The center would soon begin to offer six-month job
skills training courses for defectors who did not want to join the RCAF.
"They could join their families to take up farming, for example, if they
wanted," he said.
Those who joined the RCAF were not obliged to use arms
against their former rebel comrades, but could be assigned to contact them to
try to convince them to try to convince them to defect.
Each trainee at
the center was paid 800 riels a day, and were being fed with food supplied by
World Vision and the Cambodia Red Cross.
The center was staffed by 34
trainers, made up of 29 RCAF of ficers, two workers from the Licadho human
rights group and three from the Khmer Institute for Democracy.