Adidas, Labor Groups Call for Murder Investigation

More than 200 local and international unions, rights groups and a major sportswear brand on Mon­day urged Cambodian authorities to conduct a professional and im­partial investigation into the Feb­ruary killing of Free Trade Union official Hy Vuthy.

The 242 organizations, including sports apparel giant Adidas Group, the International Labor Organi­zation and Human Rights Watch, issued a joint statement criticizing the growing number of violent at­tacks against union leaders.

“This pattern of violence and the climate of fear it creates for trade union leaders and workers must be stopped,” the organizations said ahead of International Labor Day, which falls today. The statement in­cluded pictures of Hy Vuthy as well as former FTU president Chea Vichea, who was shot dead in Jan­uary 2004, and FTU official Ros So­van­nareth, gunned down several months later.

Lieutenant General Khieu So­pheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said an investigation into Hy Vuthy’s killing is already underway and warrants have been issued for two suspects. He declined to name the suspects and referred further questions to the municipal police.

Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naruth also declined to name the two suspects. “We have used all means to find the suspects, but they are hiding,” he said. “If the NGOs have the ability, they can help us to arrest the [suspects].”

The Cambodian Confederation of Unions also issued a statement Monday asking the government to find the “real” killers of Hy Vuthy, Chea Vichea and Ros Sovannareth.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the courts have already convicted the killers of both Chea Vich­ea and Ros Sovannareth.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Associa­tion of Cambodia, said he was not worried that repeated public statements about violence against union leaders would negatively affect the garment industry.

“We are more concerned about the safety of the workers,” Ken Loo said. People should not necessarily conclude that violence involving unionists is linked to their union activities, he added.

“Every day you read in the local pa­pers that there are so many tragic acts of violence and so on. It is so convenient to say it’s just an act of violence targeting unionists,” he said.


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