RCAF Volunteer Plan Concerns Villagers: Report

Villagers in Oddar Meanchey province are concerned about a plan to select volunteers to join the military at the border, where Thai and Cambodian troops have been facing off for months, a human rights organization said Monday.

Officials in RCAF Military Re­gions 4 and 5 said last week that they had begun a selection process, which would eventually add thousands of young volunteers to the ranks of the military.

Srey Naren, Adhoc local monitor in Oddar Meanchey province, said villagers in the province were concerned because they had received little information about the selection process and feared they might be forced to join the army.

Lam Lot, a 38-year-old farmer in Kok Morn village, Banteay Ampil district, Oddar Meanchey province, said he had recently found out that his name had been registered on the volunteer list without his knowledge.

“I did not go to the village chief’s house or take the lottery, and they did not tell me at all; then they write my name down in the soldiers’ list,” Lam Lot said.

“I think I am 38 years old, over the age that they need, which is from 18 to 30 years old, and then they select me. I worry about my case now,” he said.

Another Kok Morn villager, Thol Leurt, a 30-year-old mechanic, said he was selected by lottery Friday with nine others in the village and didn’t know any specifics about where he would train or when he would go to the border.

Srey Naren added that villagers in his province also wonder why the selection process has not been extended to the entire country, and not just border provinces. So far only RCAF’s region 4 and 5 have confirmed the recruitment drive.

Defense Minister Tea Banh could not be reached for comment Monday.

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