Dissident monks and political activists hosted a ceremony Thursday for the protesting garment workers killed by military police during their repression of stone-throwing demonstrators on Veng Sreng Street two weeks ago.
The hourlong ceremony, held at the home of housing rights activist Tep Vanny in the Boeng Kak community, started at 9:30 a.m. with a procession of about 50 people who presented offerings of small sums of money, water, rice and noodles to some 200 monks at a shrine set up in honor of the five slain protesters, and the more than 40 other workers wounded during the January 3 demonstration.
After a short service by the monks, members of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ), people lit incense and toured a memorial inside Ms. Vanny’s house where pictures of four people confirmed killed by local rights group Licadho during the Veng Sreng shootings were displayed.
“The four dead will remain in our heart, and we won’t stand by and watch them die without getting justice for them,” Ms. Vanny told those gathered for the ceremony, which included family members of Sam Ravy, 26, and Kim Phaleap, 29, two of those killed.
“We demand justice for our workers who were killed and injured during their protest to demand higher pay,” she said.
But Buntenh, the outspoken head monk of IMNSJ, said that the ceremony was held at Ms. Vanny’s house due to the government banning public gatherings and recent acts of State violence.
“When we demonstrate, the authorities crack down; when the workers strike, they kill them,” he said.
“We hold this ceremony to pray for the people who died at the Veng Sreng crackdown by authorities and to pray that leaders stop using violence.”
Chhiev Panith, 20, the wife of slain striker Sam Ravy, said she would file a complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court requesting an investigation into her husband’s death.
“I want the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice according to the law. The authorities used their weapons to crack down on workers, and since my husband died, no authorities have come to investigate,” Ms. Panith said.