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Three 'lost' villagers return to Pailin

Three 'lost' villagers return to Pailin

THREE of the more than 30 villagers who were suspected by the Cambodian rights group Adhoc of having been forced into joining the army in Preah Vihear have returned home to Pailin, saying they had volunteered for military service. But some, including one of the young soldiers' mothers, suspects the three men are not telling the whole truth.

"When we arrived in Preah Vihear, I and the other villagers were told to register for the army, but we were not forced. We volunteered to join the army," said Yoeut Vet, 17, who said he changed his name to Yoeut Rattana while he was in Preah Vihear.

But Sok Chea, 36, Yoeut Vet's mother, said that she remains sceptical of her son's claims.

"I don't believe my son 100 percent, because if he was forced to be in the army why would he change his name. I think that he was told to say this," she said.

Vanna Long, an army commander in Pailin, said that it was unlikely that the villagers were coerced into joining the military, as there are already many soldiers posted along Cambodia's border areas.

"Today, no one is forced to join the army," he said. "There is no war."

Meanwhile, Nun Boren, 45, a mother of two villagers who have yet to return, demanded help from the government locating her missing son and daughter.

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