Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Anti-Capitol boycott drawing increased support after attack

Anti-Capitol boycott drawing increased support after attack

A man attacks a person in central Phnom Penh earlier this month during a Capitol Bus Company protest that turned violent. LICADHO
A man attacks a person in central Phnom Penh earlier this month during a Capitol Bus Company protest that turned violent. LICADHO

Anti-Capitol boycott drawing increased support after attack

A boycott of the Capitol Bus Company organised by former drivers and their supporters is picking up steam online after a brutal beatdown took place at a protest last week.

The drivers, who have been protesting for the reinstatement of 45 of their own after they were allegedly fired for trying to start a union, announced the boycott in December.

But it was only after February 6, when members of a tuk-tuk drivers’ association accused of working with the company were recorded beating the protesting drivers with hammers, sticks and metal rods, that the boycott appears to have gained traction.

One post calling for the boycott on Friday from Khmer Sovannaphumi, a popular Facebook page run by a political opposition supporter, garnered almost a thousand shares and dozens of comments.

Under the post, plastered with photos of bloodied bus drivers, commenters slammed the tuk-tuk drivers’ organisation that allegedly busted the protest, the Cambodia for Confederation Development Association, likening them to “gangsters”.

A flurry of posts from similar Facebook pages and civil society activists has sparked Cambodians to publicly announce their own boycott pledges on social media.

Tep Sorsina posted on Facebook that he was supporting the boycott because “the victims need justice, and I support justice”. Pich Peoupichet posted that for him, giving business to Capitol was the equivalent to “supporting criminal violence and bloodshed”.

One driving reason behind the outrage was local authorities, who arrested and charged two protesters but not a single CCDA member. Four prominent union leaders were charged as well, although they have not been arrested.

“We never saw the government intervene, they let the company continue to use violence,” said Meas Nee, a social analyst who joined the boycott.

International pressure has been building against Capitol as well.

On Thursday, the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation wrote a letter to the Labour Ministry condemning the violence.

“We expect that all charges will be dropped immediately and those detained will be freed,” the letter read.

However, Capitol representative Phou Kok Vann maintained that protesters were the ones behind the violence, and said the boycotts had not led to any decline in passenger numbers.

“Our customers are now just hearing rumours about who started this conflict; we have tried to explain to them who was right and who was wrong.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,