The Phnom Penh municipal police chief yesterday denied claims his officers had beaten three female garment factory workers with batons and shields during a protest in which a 21-year-old’s nose was allegedly broken on Tuesday.
Police chief Touch Naruth called the Post yesterday claiming no weapons had been used to prevent about 900 employees of Win Shing-tex Cambodia garment factory from marching to the Ministry of Labour after 10 days of striking.
“After workers were wounded in Bavet city [last month], we banned authorities from using batons and shields to prevent or crack down on people striking or demonstrating,” he said.
“There was a scuffle between police and workers . . . but it did not wound any worker, and a worker had blood flowing from her nose because it was too hot,” he said.
One of the victims, Ry Mom, yesterday stood by The Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Unions (C.CAWDU) representative Man Vanna’s claims, made on Tuesday, that batons had been used.
Ry Mom said police had used batons to strike her on the chest after she tried to help a co-worker who police were beating.
Ry Mom was then punched in the face numerous times, which broke the bridge of her nose and caused her to faint, she said.
“Police forces hit her . . . I got hurt, but I still stood firm, but then my friend told me I had blood. I was shocked and fainted,” she said.
Blood was still seeping from her nose yesterday and she was in pain, she said.
“I ask the authorities to stop using violence against workers, because we follow the law,” she said.
Touch Naruth said that leading up to next week’s ASEAN summit, the authorities were not allowing protesters to march into the city centre.
“If you want to march, wait until the ASEAN summit is complete,” he said.
“Talk together and defend the dignity of the country – and the safety. Authorities will keep preventing marches without using batons or shields.”
San Sopha, a labour dispute official from C.CAWDU, said the union had prepared photographic evidence, gathered witnesses and would file a complaint to the court.
“Photos and videos reveal the authorities used shields and black batons to attack the workers, and we have workers who saw the event,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tep Nimol at firstname.lastname@example.org