Eight members of an apparel workers union that led last month’s garment strikes received court orders last week to appear for questioning over an alleged attempted murder in July in Kandal province, the union said.
Union members said they believed the Sept 21 summonses, issued within a week of the Sept 16 close of the strikes, were unrelated to last month’s work stoppages and resulted instead from a complaint filed by members of the little known Voice of Khmer Youth Union.
Voice of Khmer Youth representatives were unavailable. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.
“There were four people from this union who came to fight our group,” said Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union. “They used scissors and table legs to fight with the intention to kill us.”
CCAWDU is the largest member of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, which organized last month’s strikes.
“This lawsuit is assisted by the company,” he said, referring to the E Garment Co, a manufacturer of T-shirts and knit children’s wear in Sa’ang district’s Svay Ralum commune where the alleged incident occurred.
However So Sam Ang, an administrator at E Garment, denied this, saying his company was uninvolved and that the workers involved in the incident had been quickly dismissed.
“We didn’t take sides with any party,” he said. “They’re just accusing the company but the dispute was among the workers, not the company.
According to Chan Pov, a CCAWDU representative who said he received a court order on Oct 12, the orders were issued in the name of provincial prosecutor Ouk Kimsith.
“This is a dispute between union and union,” he said. “I don’t feel concerned by the possibility of arrest because I didn’t take part in the fighting, though I was present at the scene.”
Mr Kimseith, the prosecutor, said he could provide no details on the case. “I don’t remember this case because there are too many stories,” he said. Judge In Van Vibol, the court’s president, said he had no details either.