Speculation is rife about the motive behind the daylight shooting of garment
factory trade union leader Ros Sovannareth, the second such killing this
Ros Sovannareth's widow, Roeun Yarann, and brother, Sok San, weep over his body at Kossamak hospital where he died after being shot.
His widow says it stems from an argument with another union
official, at which her husband's life was apparently threatened.
says the argument had been resolved months ago.
A third source says it
was revenge arising from a love affair.
His own union is not sure why he
might have been killed, but an international union leader sees it is "an overt
threat to the trade union movement".
The police are not speculating. They
say they are still collecting evidence and witnesses disagree about exactly what
Sovannareth, 42, president of the workers' union at Trinunggal
Komara garment factory, was shot on the afternoon of May 7 on Kampuchea Krom
Boulevard in Tek Laok 1 commune, Tuol Kork, while driving a motorbike home to
Prek Leap in Russey Keo. He was struck four times by bullets fired by two
unidentified assailants, who escaped.
His widow, Roeun Yarann, 30, has
fears about her security and is seeking support from NGOs. "I have nothing after
my husband was killed. My daughter and I are very afraid," said Yarann. "I
didn't know what to say when I saw his body covered in blood. I cannot believe
he has been shot. He never has arguments, not even with our
On May 11, Yarann filed a request to Phnom Penh municipal
court, asking the police to find the killers, and claiming $30,000
Her statement said that on November 29 at 9am a person
named Khvann Chanmony, representing another union in the same factory, walked
away angrily from a meeting, threatening Sovannareth: "Be careful, you may
On the same day Sovannareth and six others wrote to the
factory owner complaining about the threatening statement.
Sam Srey Mom,
acting president of the Free Trade Union, said: "We cannot say whether his
killing is a revenge or not. We cannot accuse somebody because we are
investigating the case."
Srey Mom said that in late November 2003
Sovannareth had an argument in the factory with Khvann Chanmony, an official
from the pro-government Cambodian Union Federation (CUF) while choosing worker
representatives for the factory, but said things calmed down after the problems
Chuon Momthol, president of the CUF and president of the
Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions, said: "His killing is a personal
revenge and related to love affairs. They [the widow and family} have the right
to file a complaint to my union, but if the court finds that nothing involves my
union I will file a complaint for defamation and imprisonment."
said the conflict between Sovannareth and Chanmony was not a big problem. It was
solved and they became friends before FTU president Chea Vichea was shot on
Phnom Penh Penal Police chief Reach Sokhon told the Post on
May 17 that the police were collecting information from the workers at the
factory and witnesses at the shooting.
"The investigation does not have
the positive result yet because the answers of eyewitnesses are not similar. Now
they do not want to talk to police because they are afraid of their security,"
said Reach Sokhon. "It takes time to investigate, but we want it to finish soon.
The police are working hard on this case".
On May 10, in a letter to
Minister of Social affairs Ith Sam Heng, the secretary-general of the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions Asia and Pacific Regional
Organization, Noriyuki Suzuki, said the killing was another threatening message
to other trade union leaders to stop their trade union activities.
two murders are an overt threat to the trade union movement" he said.
Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee and the Son Sann Foundation also
condemned the murder and appealed to the government to investigate and bring the
perpetrators to justice.