Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Demos for 21 allowed

Demos for 21 allowed

Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun (centre) and other union affiliates led a march along Sisowath Quay
Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun (centre) and other union affiliates led a march along Sisowath Quay and on towards the Royal Palace yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Demos for 21 allowed

Demonstrations yesterday supporting the release of detainees arrested during protests last month proved much more peaceful than those at which the 21 were arrested.

Marches to a public shrine on Phnom Penh’s riverside, the Ministry of Justice and the Court of Appeal saw no police intervention, as protesters delivered petitions and released balloons and birds in an appeal to release the 21 people still detained following violent clashes with authorities at demonstrations supporting a garment worker strike in early January.

“Release, release, release them without condition! We need freedom!” shouted Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Garment Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), as about 120 supporters paused in front of the Court of Appeal on their march from the Imperial Garden Villa and Hotel to Preah Ang Dongker. “Tomorrow is the bail hearing for the 21 people [still detained]; we believe the Appeal Court must release them for the sake of freedom!”

Thorn and members of nine union groups and several NGOs chanted during their brief march to the Buddhist shrine, where monks led a prayer before the group released balloons and 23 birds representing each of those arrested during demonstrations on January 2 and 3 – two were released on bail on Saturday.

Similar demonstrations were held in at least 45 locations in Cambodia and 13 international cities, said Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho.

At a press conference before the march, Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun said if judges decline the detainees’ bail request and the government does not agree to raise garment sector minimum wage, unionists will take to the streets.

“If the people are not released and the government does not increase the minimum wage for garment workers to $160 per month, I will lead a nationwide mass demonstration,” Chhun said. “The activists at the factories are prepared to follow their leaders in a mass demonstration the following day.”

In a separate march yesterday morning, about 100 monks, unionists and land activists brought a petition demanding the release of the 21 men and for the court to drop charges of aggravated intentional damage and aggravated violence against all 23 arrested.

Prak Sovannary, wife of Vorn Pov – president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) who was arrested at a demonstration in front of the Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc garment factory on January 2 – joined the group, maintaining her husband’s innocence.

“I am participating in this to seek justice from the Ministry of Justice and the Court of Appeal,” Sovannary said. “They must release and cancel the charges against my husband and against more than 20 other victims, because they are not guilty.”

Leaders of C.CAWDU and several other unions will attend the bail hearing, which is scheduled to take place this morning, C.CAWDU staffer Sun Lyhov said yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does