Kandal Police Disperse Striking Garment Workers

Police allegedly fired smoke grenades to disperse more than 1,000 garment workers in Kandal province who demonstrated outside a factory on Friday over the firing of 10 fellow employees, union and rights officials said

Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said that police fired smoke grenades and factory security fired bullets into the air during the protest at the River Rich Textile Ltd factory in Sa’ang district.

“A guard at the factory shot two bullets into the air to intimidate the workers,” Ath Thon said. “It isn’t right-we were really afraid,” he said.

The workers were striking be­cause the factory fired 10 employees in November for forming a union, Ath Thon claimed.

Chan Soveth, chief monitor for local rights group Adhoc, said he witnessed the demonstration, which was policed by around 100 armed officers who were deployed to guard the factory and who used smoke grenades.

Cheam Charith, a Cambodian translator for the Chinese-owned River Rich factory, said Friday that he knew nothing of shots or smoke grenades being fired.

“I only heard the voice of the workers,” he said, before referring questions to a manager who, he said, was out of the country.

Police and government officials in Kandal province could not be reached for comment Friday.


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