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Svay Rieng pair suffering in jail, families say

Svay Rieng pair suffering in jail, families say

THE families of two villagers jailed in Svay Rieng province for tampering with demarcation posts on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border say they are suffering from a lack of food and severe health problems, and urged NGOs and charities to come to the prisoners’ aid.

On January 26, Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced Meas Srey, 39, and Prum Chea, 41, to one year in prison after they joined opposition leader Sam Rainsy in uprooting six border posts during a Buddhist ceremony in Chantrea district in October. The villagers say the posts were placed in their fields illegally by Vietnamese officials.

Choeung Sarin, Prum Chea’s wife, said that since his arrest, her husband has suffered from an inflamed stomach, heart problems and low blood sugar, She appealed for outside help to purchase medicine.

“I visited him and brought him some medicine on Wednesday, but he did not seem to get any better,” she said, adding that she was 400,000 riels (around US$96) in debt because of her husband’s health problems.

Meas Srey’s elder brother Meas Pril said Thursday that his sister was also suffering from heart problems and arthritis in prison. “I visited her last week. She said her heart problems were getting more serious, and that she wanted to relax and receive treatment at home,” he said.

Meas Pril added that the aid the victims’ families received from Human Rights Party (HRP) President Kem Sokha last month had only staved off the hardship for a short time and appealed for help from generous people, charity groups and NGOs.

Nget Channara, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said the two prisoners were still in a serious condition. “Because of the bad atmosphere in the prison, the illnesses they had at the time they were imprisoned have been getting worse and worse,” he said.

But Kaen Savoeun, chief of the Svay Rieng provincial prison, said the illnesses plaguing prisoners were nothing out of the ordinary.

“If they’re really in a serious condition, we will allow them to go for treatment outside the prison,” he said, adding that the prison also has medical professionals on standby in the case of emergencies.

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