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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Teacher petition slams CITA head

Teacher petition slams CITA head

Teathers from the capital’s Boeung Trabek High School have accused the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association of intentionally causing rifts between school staff, according to a petition obtained by the Post.

The petition, dated February 18 and thumbprinted by the school director, three deputy directors and other teachers, was sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen in response to a letter on behalf of the staff sent to the premier by CITA president Rong Chhun last week.

The petition said Rong Chhun intended to meddle in internal affairs “in an attempt to take political benefits by opposing the development policy of the head of the government”.

There has been unrest among the school’s staff for more than 10 years after incremental land concessions granted by the Council of Ministers to various government-affiliated enterprises and an NGO.

School land has been conceded to the Royal University of Law and Economics, Hun Sen’s library, a vocational training centre, an engineering association and the Documentation Centre of Cambodia.

The most recent clash occurred last week during a strike by staff at the school on February 13 over the failure of the government to deliver on its 2002 promise of constructing an extra school building after land was ceded to the university.

The following day, Rong Chhun sent his letter, thumbprinted by 100 staff, to the premier, objecting to the granting of the concessions.

Some teachers who participated in the protest backtracked in the February 18 petition, claiming the “[protest] was to prevent development process and intended to prevent  . . . construction of a place to keep genocidal documents for serving national and international research affairs”.

Rong Chhun told the Post that some teachers had not wanted to thumbprint the petition, but had been intimidated into doing so.

“The petition was brought to their homes, asking for thumbprints without letting them read the meaning of what they were signing,” he said.

Staff representative Hem Oeun said the protest was not meant to oppose government directives, but to highlight that the school’s land had continued to shrink.

He said school directors had tried to collect thumbprints at teachers’ homes and during working hours, but had not informed them what the documents were.

School director Pheng Sovannara said he had begun working at the school only about four months ago.

“It’s a 2008 government directive that the government agreed to give land for constructing the two institutions,” he said, referring to the recent concessions to an engineering association and DC-Cam.

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