>Families of the dead soldiers appeal for help

>Family members mourned the dead soldiers.

Radio Free Asia
By Sav Yuth
26th October 2008
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

The wives and children of the soldiers killed during a fighting with the Thai soldiers on the 15th October on the borders near Preah Vihear temple have appealed to government officials and generous donors to help them as some of them become orphans and poor because they don’t have rice fields, vegetable gardens or jobs to feed their families. They do not even have a place to stay.

The government has been very generous with the families of the dead soldiers by donating thousands of dollars ($US8,000) and help with funeral expenses as well as donations to the families of the wounded soldiers.

However, the families of the dead soldiers said that they still need government’s help such as providing lands for them to build a place to live and farm to feed their young families, as their husbands are dead and cannot provide for them any more.

Mrs. Bea Sann, 46 years old, from Veal Rumpouk village, Preah Klaing commune, Tbeng Meanchey district, Preah Vihear province, said that her husband, Mr. Phert Khambai, was killed during the fighting. As she has no job, she is facing hardship to feed her 7 young children.

Mrs. Bea Sann said that she no place to live and no rice field to farm in order to feed her children. When her husband was alive, her family live with him in his barrack and raise her family with his salary of 200,000 Riels ($US50).

She added that, after her husband was killed she want to appeal to the government to provide her with some lands in the Preah Vihear provincial capital so she can make a living from the lands.

Mrs. Bea Sann said: “I have no place to live. Currently I live in the barrack belonging to Battalion 21. I am very poor. I don’t have any rice farm. I don’t have any vegetable farm and I have 7 children. My first child is a soldier, my second child is unemployed, my third children is studying in grade 4, the 4th and the 5th stay home. I am very poor. I want a house, big or small I don’t care as long as I have a house to live in.”

A neighbour of the late Mr. Phert Khambai said that his family is very poor. He said: “The family of the wife the late Mr. Phert Khambai is very poor, her house has holes everywhere, she lives next to me. When her husband was killed she is very miserable because she has too many children to feed. During the harvest season, she always took her young children with her, going around working in the rice fields earning just 10,000 Riels ($US2.50) per day.

The family of the late Mr. Toch Soeun cannot be contacted for the interview. But according to the chief of Bak Anlong commune of Tropeang Prasat district, Ouddor Meanchey province, Mr. Sin Seng, said that the family of the late Mr. Toch Soeun lives in his commune. His first wife pre-deceased him leaving him to raise their 4 children. Later, he re-married with a widow with 4 children and they have one more child together. So the total of the children in the family are 9 children.

Mr. Seng said that the family of the late Mr. Toch Soeun is very poor and they don’t even have any lands in which to farm. And he is always on military duty away from the family. After Mr. Toch Soeun was killed, his 4 children from the previous marriage were taken care by their auntie, and they received some financial assistance from the government. And the second wife received $US4,000 in government assistance, but as soon as she received the money she disappeared without even staying for the husband’s funeral which was organised by the government.

Mr. Sin Seng said: “The late Mr. Soeun has died, leaving 4 children orphaned. Now their auntie has stepped in to take care of them. The government has provided them with their share of the compensations and another part paid to the 5 children of the second wife. After his funeral, the second wife did not come to collect his ashes, she just took the $4,000 and disappeared.”

The government has helped all the families of the dead and wounded soldiers. Gen. Srey Doek, commander of Intervention Forces of Division 12 said that the government has looked after both the families of the dead and wounded soldiers well.

Gen. Srey Doek said: “the government has handed them a lot of money. In short, the government has taken care of them a lot, especially PM Hun Sen who has asked Mrs. Men Sam Orn to lead a delegation to meet the families personally.”

Please note that, in the fighting with the Thai troops on the 15th of October, 3 Cambodian soldiers were killed. They are Col. Phert Khambai, 47 years old, from Battalion 121 with 7 children. Capt. Toch Soeun, from border Protection Unit 404 with 9 children and Capt. Lon Deth, from Border Protection Unit 431, his wife’s name is Sum Trea, deceased, leaving 6 children orphaned.

According sources from the government, the government has decided to compensate the families of the dead soldiers with $US8,000 each family and one million riels ($US250). As for the families of the 2 wounded soldiers have received more than $US2,000 each in compensation as well as 260,000 riels ($US55). And ex-king Sihanouk announced from Beijing that he will provide $US1,000 each to the families of the dead soldiers as well as $US500 each to the families of the wounded soldiers.//

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