Free Trade Union officials at the Suntex garment factory said they will resign in one month if police do not catch the killers of Hy Vuthy, the factory’s former FTU president who was gunned down Saturday.
The violence visited on union members in recent months is so intense and efforts to apprehend the perpetrators so lax that union membership are no longer safe, they said.
“If the police cannot find the killers, I will resign from the FTU,” said Choy Chin, FTU secretary-general at the factory. “I am afraid that someone will kill me too.”
In addition to the 2004 slayings of FTU president Chea Vichea and the killing of Hy Vuthy, local rights group Licadho claimed in December it had documented seven cases in which FTU members at the Suntex and Bright Sky factories were either beaten or shot at.
Choy Chin said that after receiving numerous threats warning him to quit the union, he was beaten by a group of men in September and suffered a skull fracture. “So far, I have never seen the police arrest any assailants who attack FTU officials,” he said.
Chey Rithy, FTU deputy president at the factory, also said he would quit if the police don’t find the killers. “It’s useless for us to be workers advocates—we are targets,” he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Thursday that he had no information concerning developments in the investigation of Hy Vuthy’s killing as this is a confidential matter.
Albert Tan, regional vice president of Ocean Sky, the troubled factories’ parent corporation, said Thursday that the death of Hy Vuthy had not caused garment buyers to contact Ocean Sky and that productivity has not been affected by the recent incidents. Tan refused to discuss reports of violence against his employees.
On Tuesday, Chhuon Mom Thol, president of the Cambodian Union Federation, responded in a letter to FTU accusations that he was involved in Hy Vuthy’s killing, claiming that the slain union leader wanted to resign from the FTU and that Chea Mony had refused his request.
“Could this be a motive for Vuthy’s killing?” Chhuon Mom Thol wrote.
FTU President Chea Mony said Wednesday that he continued to believe the rival CUF may have been involved in the killing.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)