Long Panha (left), an employee of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, is taken into custody by police during a demonstration by factory workers on Wednesday in Phnom Penh. Photograph: supplied
Police released union employee Long Panha last night after taking him into custody during a clash between police officers and workers’ rights representatives near Wat Botum in Phnom Penh in which he was beaten and left bleeding from the head, NGO officials said.
According to Panha, 23, who was treated for injuries to his face and forehead after his release, police forced him to thumbprint a confession in which he apologised for instigating the conflict between police and protesters, an admission he rescinded at a press conference yesterday morning.
“I did not clash with the police first,” he said. “My hand was empty but the police had shields and sticks. It is a violation of human rights.”
Panha, who works for the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said the attack took place as roughly 20 workers and union representatives rested after submitting a petition to Hun Sen’s cabinet on behalf of striking workers at Levi’s and Gap supplier Tai Yang Enterprises.
“I am sorry for clashing with police yesterday morning. I promise to stop clashing with police anyway. I ask the police to end this case at the Phnom Penh Police Office,” read a copy of his confession.
Panha denied the content of the confession, and declined to file a complaint, preferring to drop the matter entirely.
According to documents obtained by the Post, Hou Sithy, director of Hun Sen’s cabinet, accepted the petition which asked Minister of Labour Vong Sot to examine the worker’s demands.
Meanwhile, the weeks-long strike that prompted Panha and other labour rights activists to hold their demonstration continued at Tai Yang’s Kandal province factory yesterday and will persist, said CATU President Yang Sophorn.
“If they get a solution from their employer, they will return to work,” she said. “They do not yet calm down.”
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