Nearly 100 people gathered Sunday to commemorate the death of Hy Vuthy, congregating at the site in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district where the Free Trade Union official was gunned down last month.
Union representatives, NGO workers, factory workers and friends of Suntex factory’s former FTU president were among those attending the Buddhist ceremony, organized by local rights group Licadho. Six monks performed a blessing by the side of the road in Choam Chao commune in honor of the slain unionist, who was gunned down Feb 24 as he was driving home from work.
“We’re not here to accuse,” said Licadho president Kek Galabru. “Whether or not his death is related to politics…the authorities’ duty is to find the perpetrator.”
FTU President Chea Mony said that his union had independently identified the suspects in the crime, but would “wait to see if the government would arrest the right killer…or arrest innocent people like those who killed my brother Chea Vichea.”
Hy Vuthy’s death marked the third killing of an FTU official since then-FTU President Chea Vichea was slain in January 2004, followed months later by the killing of FTU official Ros Sovannareth.
Hy Vuthy’s wife Var Sopheak said she did not attend the ceremony out of fear for her safety, adding that she has been living in various safe houses since her husband’s death.
A police investigation of Hy Vuthy’s death is underway, Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said, though he declined to provide details. Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naruth could not be reached for comment.
The ceremony attracted some 60 factory workers living near the site of Hy Vuthy’s death. “His cries for help are still in my ears,” said Hoeun Herng, a 25-year-old garment factory worker.
Huoth Srey Pov, 21, a Suntex factory worker, said “thousands of us [workers] would have come” had everyone known about the ceremony.
Chea Mony said that he did not make a broad appeal for factory workers to attend because the numbers would have clogged the streets.