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Group to screen Chea Vichea film

Unionists propose screening the documentary near the site of the labour leader’s 2004 murder

Image courtesy of Bradley Cox
A screenshot from the documentary Who Killed Chea Vichea? shows the union leader moments after he was shot dead on Street 51 and Sihanouk Boulevard.

UNIONISTS plan to mark the May 1 Labour Day holiday by screening a documentary that explores the infamous unsolved murder of leader Chea Vichea near the spot where he was gunned down, union officials said Tuesday.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), said he is planning to show the film, titled Who Killed Chea Vichea?, on Saturday in an attempt to pressure authorities, who critics say have dragged their heels in finding the perpetrators of the January 2004 slaying.

“We want this case to be investigated,” Rong Chhun said. The government “should not allow this case to go unresolved”.

Chea Vichea’s family believes the murder was political, and that he was targeted because he was a prominent union leader. Two men were arrested and convicted after his death, but
Chea Vichea’s family has insisted they are not guilty.

Screening the film could prove controversial. Organisers plan to show it next to the gates of Wat Lanka, near the street corner where Chea Vichea was shot.

Filmmaker Bradley Cox said that rather than focusing on who pulled the trigger, the documentary seeks to ask the question of who ordered the murder.

“Based on the evidence and reasonable deduction, I think the movie goes a long way in answering this,” he said last week via email.

Chea Mony, who succeeded his murdered brother as leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said organisers hope the film will shine a light on the government’s failure to solve the case.

“Many well-known persons were killed, but the killers have never been arrested,” said Chea Mony, who urged authorities to allow organisers to screen the film. “The government must not prohibit the showing of this film because people have suffered greatly from this murder.”

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said authorities would not stop anyone from showing the film for political reasons.

However, he said organisers must obtain permission from Phnom Penh municipal officials first because the screening will be in public.

“For [the government], it is no problem, but normally if you are showing it in a public spot, you must ask permission from the authorities,” Khieu Kanharith said.

“If we cannot find [the killers], let them criticise us. It doesn’t matter.”

Union organisers said they have sent an official request to City Hall asking for permission to show the film.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment.

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