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Workers ‘injured by electric batons’

Workers ‘injured by electric batons’

A pregnant woman who miscarried was one of 20 workers injured yesterday when military police used electric batons to disperse protesters at the Sabrina Garment factory in Kampong Speu province, a union representative claimed.

Sun Vanny, the factory’s Free Trade Union representative, said about 4,000 workers were protesting in front of the factory in Samrong Tong district when military police seized their megaphone.

“The workers asked for it back, but police denied their request,” Vanny said, adding that workers then thronged National Road 4 to try to reclaim their confiscated property.

“It is not a big problem, and we did not block the road. We just needed our megaphone back,” Vanny said.

This was when officers used electric batons to push back the crowd, he added.

Vanny said that among those hurt was a 20-year-old woman two months pregnant, who suffered a miscarriage when she was pushed to the ground.

The factory makes clothing for US sportswear company Nike.

Leng Pros, 28, said he was beaten unconscious when he tried to shield a different pregnant colleague from blows.

“They used electric batons to beat me until I lost consciousness. I would’ve died if my friends did not take me out,” Pros said.

Men Siboun, provincial military police chief, could not be reached for comment, but a military police officer who declined to be named said officers retaliated only when workers began throwing stones at them.

“The workers threw stones and caused about 10 police and military police officials head injuries,” he said.

He scoffed at the workers’ threats to file lawsuits or complaints about police brutality. “We do not care if they sue us; if they do, we will as well.”

The workers have been protesting outside the factory for nearly two weeks, demanding  $33 more a month to cover costs of living.

A factory representative declined to comment. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REUTERS

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