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Hundreds pray for release of unionists

Hundreds pray for release of unionists

Hundreds of workers from the Agile Sweater factory in Kampong Speu province gathered in front of the provincial court yesterday, praying for authorities to release five unionists arrested at the factory on Tuesday.

The workers lit incense sticks as they massed in prayer, a video of the incident showed.

“We pray and ask for the director of the provincial court to release [the five] for this new year of 2016,” a woman said into a loudspeaker.

On Tuesday morning, members of the national Collective Union of Movement of Workers came to assist workers at the Agile Sweater factory who have been protesting since last month.

The unionists claimed they were then attacked by thugs from the factory’s pro-employer union, although authorities disputed the account and arrested five union officials for allegedly violently blocking workers from going back to work.

The five unionists were charged with intentional violence on Tuesday, said provincial prosecutor Keo Sothea.

An Thin, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the arrests have heated up an already-volatile situation.

“It is unjust that the five were arrested, because they were not violent, while the police allowed those who beat them to run away,” he said.

“The police colluded with the factory to arrest unionists in order to prevent workers from continuing to strike, but it turned out that made the workers even angrier.”

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