Cambodian Labour Confederation President Ath Thorn (L) and Cambodian Confederation of Unions President Rong Chhun (C) attend a signing ceremony in Phnom Penh, Monday, Jan. 14, 2012. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
Unionists yesterday said they would urge international organisations and buyers to pressure the government to re-charge and arrest the former Bavet town governor accused of shooting three garment workers and to release two men imprisoned for the murder of unionist Chea Vichea.
Speaking at the launch of a Cambodia branch of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), presidents for two of the country’s most prominent unions said they would be launching campaigns to bring publicity to the cases.
“We are going to start a campaign on the [Chhouk] Bandith case to seek justice for victims and demand the release of Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang, to find the real murderer,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions.
In December, charges of unintentional injury were dropped against Bandith, who had been fingered by numerous witnesses for firing shots at a garment factory protest, injuring three women.
The same month, Sam Oeun and Samnang were re-arrested for the 2004 slaying of unionist Chea Vichea – a crime for which it is widely believed they were wrongfully convicted.
Though Chhun did not provide dates, he said he would soon raise the cases to the ITUC, International Labour Organization, and buyers, asking for joint statements of support.
Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union President Ath Thorn said the union would support a forthcoming protest over the Bandith case.
“I support [Free Trade Union president] Chea Mony in leading workers to protest for the court to arrest Chhouk Bandith,” he said.
On December 21, the general prosecutor of the Appeal Court appealed the Svay Rieng court’s decision to the charges against Bandith and filed for a reinvestigation.
Ouk Savuth, prosecutor general at the Court of Appeal, said an exact date for the hearing had not been set, but “it will be carried out after the King Father’s cremation”.
The unionists also called for an increase to the minimum wage, from $61 a month to $150.
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