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Pailin villagers 'forced' to join army, rights group claims

Pailin villagers 'forced' to join army, rights group claims

Families in Pailin claim more than 30 villagers who moved to Preah Vihear for construction jobs  were ‘forced’ into military service

 OUT OF TOUCH

Neth Yoeun, 48, the father of a 17-year-old boy who left Pailin to go to Preah Vihear, said he had not been in touch with his son and did not know where he was. “He has never contacted me,” he said, adding that he wanted the military police to invervene.

MORE than 30 villagers from Pailin province were "forced" into joining the army in Preah Vihear province after having been told to move there to take construction jobs, said Cambodian rights group  Adhoc.

The villagers were said to have been encouraged by the chief of Baysey village, Him Heoun, to travel on April 20 to Preah Vihear province, where he said they would be able to find employment as construction workers.

Him Heoun "announced to all the villagers last week that they should work in Preah Vihear and he will give them land on which they could live and farm," said Chhoun Makara, Adhoc's provincial coordinator in Pailin. "There are many people who volunteered to go with him, and when they arrived, they were forced into the army."

Chhoun Makara said the case was brought to his attention by the families of the men and women who travelled to Preah Vihear. He said he did not know how exactly the men were "forced" into military service, as he had not yet been in touch with the appropriate officials.

Nong Vanny, bureaucratic chief of research for the Military Police, told the Post on Sunday that he had received a complaint on Friday from parents who claimed that their two sons - aged 14 and 17 - "were cheated by the village chief to work as construction workers but then were forced to be soldiers at Preah Vihear".  

He said he had not yet been able to verify the parents' claims.

Attempts to reach Him Heoun were unsuccessful on Sunday.  

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