Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Out of jail, garment worker sees uncertain future



Out of jail, garment worker sees uncertain future

Pang Vunny gestures towards his eyes as he explains his deteriorating eyesight
Pang Vunny gestures towards his eyes as he explains his deteriorating eyesight, near his residence on Veng Sreng Boulevard. Pha Lina

Out of jail, garment worker sees uncertain future

When Pang Vunny walks around his rented room just off of Veng Sreng Boulevard, he waves his hand from side to side in front of him, like a man feeling his way in the dark.

Ever since he was arrested and badly beaten on January 2 – as one of 23 detained over two days of unruly wage protests during which at least four demonstrators were shot dead – Vunny’s eyesight has been in decline.

Though he takes medicine, provided by rights group Licadho, he is unsure whether it can cure the ailment, or whether the blurry shapes he is still able to make out will soon disappear.

“I am worried I will go stone blind if they are not cured,” he said.

Vunny and the 22 others were freed from prison last Friday – albeit with convictions and suspended sentences – but freedom doesn’t lessen the worry over his livelihood and his siblings, whom he supports. His hazy vision means he can’t work in the garment factory.

“I am innocent, [but] they beat me like that and put me in jail, and sentenced me to three years’ imprisonment,” he said. “How about the soldiers who beat me? Why don’t they put them in jail, too?”

His voice breaking, Vunny recalled how he had been sitting in his room reading a Cambodian-to-English dictionary when soldiers and military police rushed in, beat him and dragged him out over the protests of his siblings.

As he was hauled down the street and had his hands tied behind his back, the beating continued, he said. Then, he passed out.

“Then they threw water on me. When I woke up, they used heavy shoes to kick me around the eyebrows,” he said.

Vunny now occasionally coughs up black blood, he said, and when he looks down, at a plate of food, for example, he immediately get a headache.

Vunny will travel to Bangkok for treatment soon, also courtesy of Licadho, but only after others with more pressing ailments. Meanwhile, he says he is considering appealing his conviction and countersuing the authorities.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said yesterday that it was within Vunny’s rights to sue, and that police “will comply with the court order if they do investigate”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,