Labor Leader’s Wife, Supporters Gather to Demand His Release

The wife of jailed union representative Suos Chantha became emotional yesterday as she talked to re­porters outside Prey Sar Prison, where her husband has been de­tained for nearly two months.

Chamreoun Limheng, 22, and about 70 others gathered at the pri­son, displaying banners and re­quest­ing that Phnom Penh Muni­cipal Court release Mr Chantha on ba­il.

The group then released birds and balloons, representing freedom and solidarity.

“I need the court to prove that he is clean, because he is a good person,” Ms Limheng said. “I can prove that he is honest and doesn’t break the law.”

Mr Chantha, 27, a union repres­en­tative for the CPP-affiliated Demo­cratic Independent Solidarity Union Federation at the United Apparel gar­ment factory, located in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune in Phnom Penh, has been detained for nearly two months on narcotics distribution charges.

Military police arrested Mr Chan­tha on Nov 18 for carrying a substan­ce they claim was illicit but have yet to identify. Prior to his arrest, he was in negotiations to lead almost 1,000 workers to defect to the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Dem­o­cratic Union, led by Ath Thon.

There is still no evidence to prove his arrest was connected to his plan­ned defection, according to union re­p­­re­s­entatives, rights groups and workers who had previously said the arrest might have been a set­up.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor at Licadho, said Mr Chantha should be released on bail if there was no evi­dence to prove his guilt. “Military police said the substance is a drug, but there has been no analysis to prove it.”

“We investigated [Mr Chantha’s] background since he was a child,” Mr Thon said. “We learned that he cannot even smoke a single cigarette. We want to send a message to the authorities that they should re­view this case.”

Ms Limheng spent more than an hour sitting with other garment workers and human rights leaders in Ang Metrey pagoda yesterday, listening to dharma and praying for the release of her husband.

“I don’t have any words to say,” Ms Limheng said. “I want to see justice as soon as possible by his re­lease, and we can live together again as a family.”


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