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Disabled Soldiers Protest Absence of Pay

More than 170 disabled former soldiers gathered in protest Friday against the provincial authorities of Banteay Meanchey, who they say have not paid them a raise in their monthly disability benefits.

All disabled soldiers in Cambodia receive monthly compensation of varying amounts depending on rank. Each of the 173 protesters in Banteay Meanchey should receive between 80,000 riel and 250,000 riel, about $20 to $62.

That amount includes a 20 percent bump provided by a directive from Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2008.

But soldiers say they are not seeing the raise in their monthly payments, and that those payments sometimes don’t arrive at all.

Choeung Chanthol, 48, who lost the use of his right arm fight the Khmer Rouge in Thmar Pouk district in 1988, told VOA Khmer the disabled soldiers needed the increase to their payment to cover the increased cost of living.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen provided us with an increase of 20 percent, so we must get it,” he said.

“We need the money, because we are very poor,” said Moeun Sak, 42, who is paralyzed in the left arm and leg. “We do not have any jobs, so we depend on the payment from the government.”

Oum Chantha, chief of Banteay Meanchey’s provincial cabinet, said Friday the authorities have received a request from the disabled soldiers and are working on the problem.

“We will not allow this problem for the disabled,” he said. “All the disabled must wait for the resolution from the provincial governor later this month.”