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Tragedy once again befalls village known for eviction…a student life worth lesser than Hun Sen’s 2 months salary

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday attended the funeral of a volunteer student surveyor who was tragically killed while working alongside some of the thousands of young people deployed across the country as part of a national land-titling program.

Chan Marady, 22, was killed on Wednesday in Proma, the village in Kratie province’s Chhlong district where in May security forces launched a violent crackdown on a so-called secessionist plot that villagers said was nothing more than a forced eviction.

His family said yesterday Hun Sen had given the family $20,000 and paid the entire cost of their son’s funeral.

Marady, a fourth-year bachelor degree student at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh, died when a 20-metre Cheutiel tree blown over in a fierce storm hit him on the head, the team leader of his Group Eight squad, Keo Sodarorn, said yesterday.

“Marady was killed instantly after he was hit with a thigh-sized tree on his head and body while walking a little bit behind his friends and villagers; however, no one else was injured,” Sodarorn said.

Shedding tears, Marady’s widowed mother, Chhum Panharoth, said she was extremely regretful to have lost her son while he was on a mission serving the nation.

“His passing is a loss of life with fame and pride, while the Premier Hun Sen also paid high attention to the entire funeral of my son,” she said.

His body would be cremated this morning at the Teuk Thla pagoda, near the family’s home at Teuk La’ak 3 commune, in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district, Panharoth said.

Proma village has this year already mourned the death of another of its children, Heng Chantha, who was shot by one of the thousands of security personnel that stormed the village in May, firing automatic weapons wildly at groups of villagers.

Chantha’s family, who received only a million riel ($250) from Kratie provincial governor Sar Chamrong, continue to live in a tiny makeshift shack on a barren hill within sight of their daughter’s grave.

Hun Sen has blamed her death on independent radio station host Mam Sonando, who was sentenced to 20 years’ jail in August for his role in the “secessionist” plot, a conviction widely dismissed by rights and opposition groups as politically motivated.

Marady’s friend Keo Sodarorn said that, in the name of his colleague’s death, he and his team would work to finish the task Marady had begun with them by December, more than four months ahead of schedule.

“His death doesn’t discourage us, but motivates us to fulfil the mission due to this sad experience,” Sodarom said.

“And we, anyway, have to do our best in finishing this task for the interests of thousands of villagers in parallel with the motivation of premier Hun Sen, who is regarded as our second father.”

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