Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Unionists mark anniversary of Chea Vichea killing, while brother skips court

Unionists mark anniversary of Chea Vichea killing, while brother skips court

Former union leader Rong Chhun speaks at an event today marking the 14th anniversary of later Free Trade Union president Chea Vichea's death in 2004.
Former union leader Rong Chhun speaks at an event today marking the 14th anniversary of later Free Trade Union president Chea Vichea's death in 2004. Heng Chivoan

Unionists mark anniversary of Chea Vichea killing, while brother skips court

Unionists today marked the anniversary of the killing of prominent union leader Chea Vichea on the same day his brother, Chea Mony, failed to appear before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in response to a summons over his calls for economic sanctions on Cambodia following a political crackdown on the opposition.

Vichea, the founder of the Free Trade Union (FTU), was gunned down in broad daylight in 2004 outside a newsstand in front of Phnom Penh’s Wat Langka, with two suspects – Born Samnang and Ouk Sam Ouen – convicted for the murder, despite a lack of evidence. They were ultimately exonerated after serving five years in prison.

Vichea's brother, Mony, has been a vociferous supporter of the opposition and is a former president of the union. He is now facing legal hassles after he told Radio Free Asia that the European Union and United States should consider economic sanctions on the country following the widely condemned dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party in November. The remarks prompted a coalition of pro-government union leaders to file a complaint against him, asking for $1 million in damages and calling for "incitement" charges.

Mony did not attend his court questioning, according to FTU Deputy President Man Senghak, who said he had left the country.

“Chea Mony is abroad. The court wants him to clarify [his comments] so I don’t know if he will go,” Senghak said.

Phnom Penh court spokesmen Ly Sophanna and Y Rin declined to comment on Mony’s absence today.

Meanwhile, on Sihanouk Boulevard, where a memorial statue of Vichea stands, union members conducted a prayer ceremony and called for the killing to be investigated and for the real culprits to be convicted.

While City Hall allowed for only 120 participants, former unionist Rong Chhun said the current political climate seemed to have also dampened interest in marking the day.

“This year's number of participants was small because the city limited the number of people, some factories did not allow unions to participate and also the fear of the political situation,” said Chhun, who is a former president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10