Five Charged Over K Cham Factory Clash

The Kompong Cham Provincial Court on Tuesday charged a union official, two factory workers and two truck drivers with instigating violence and destroying property for their role in a protest that turned violent on Saturday at the Juhui Footwear factory, court officials said.

Hak Taing Bun, the clerk for Investigating Judge Pok Sovanmony, confirmed that the suspects include Khun Sokhom, 31, an official for the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU); Mon Sarem, 29, a fired worker and former union representative at the factory; and Bien Sarim, 35, another fired worker.

Also charged were Neth Pisey, 22, and Kang Savuth, 24, truck drivers who transport workers to and from the factory.

“We sent them to pretrial detention at the provincial prison this afternoon,” Mr. Taing Bun said.

Outside the factory Tuesday, some 400 workers—part of a group of 5,000 workers who went on strike last month for higher pay and better working conditions—held a religious ceremony to protest the arrest of 10 of their colleagues, including five who were released Monday.

“We invited the monks to do a water blessing to get rid of the bad luck of the five people who were released yesterday and prayed for the release of five more people who are still detained by authorities,” said union representative Buth Bunchhean.

“We want to show authorities that we did not cause violence.”

But police say they are still seeking to arrest other unionists for their involvement in Saturday’s clash, which saw dozens injured in a scuffle that erupted after officers attempted to break up a protest outside the factory.

“We are still looking to arrest more people who were involved in the case,” said San Sophea, chief of the provincial serious crimes police.

One of the union representatives wanted by police, Het Hun, said he is now on the run.

“They have arrested unionists and are still threatening to stop our activities,” he said. “There is nothing else we can do right now.”

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