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Sick worker being held in Malaysian jail: NGO

A local NGO says Malaysian authorities have held a Cambodian garment worker in prison for nearly two months due to a visa issue, despite her severely deteriorating health.

Sry Ratha was arrested and detained in Kluang prison in Johor, Malaysia, on September 9, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Community Legal Education Center.

“We [tried to] visit her [in prison], but the Malaysian police didn’t allow us,” CLEC worker Bo Pao said of the NGO’s October 19 attempt to check on Ratha’s well-being. “When they found out we were CLEC, they didn’t let anyone talk to her.”

Although officials from Honsin Apparel Sdn Bhd – a Nike supplier – and the Cambodian embassy have said Ratha’s health is improving, her brother, who also works at the Nike supplier, told CLEC members that she suffers from abdominal pain and swelling, fever, intense coughing, and blood in her urine that continues to worsen, Pao said.

Her symptoms first caught the attention of Honsin Apparel when Ratha failed a health screening necessary to renew her visa, Pao said. Rather than seeking healthcare, Honsin officials suggested a bus ticket back home.

“They tried to send her by bus from Malaysia to Thailand to Cambodia alone,” Pao said. But with no documentation, Ratha was arrested by Malaysian immigration police.

A call to a Nike regional director of Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia yesterday went unanswered by press time, as did an email to Nike’s media relations department. Officials at the Malaysian embassy in Cambodia and Cambodian embassy in Malaysia were unavailable for comment.

Brief reports from doctors suggest Ratha may suffer from a urinary tract infection that has now spread to her kidneys or bladder, CLEC said.

Ratha’s scheduled release date, according to the CLEC, is November 30, but Pao said she may be released as early as today or tomorrow. CLEC members might find out Ratha’s release date today.

“The problem is, we are worried about her situation,” Pao said. “If they keep her in her situation, she might die.”



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