Ministry Questions Unions Over Role in Kandal Garment Protest

The Interior Ministry has summoned six union representatives for questioning following a complaint from Jack Liu, director-general of Tainan Enterprises (Cambodia) Co., Ltd., alleging that they incited violence at his Kandal province garment factory in late December.

A letter dated Thursday, signed by the Interior Ministry’s penal department chief In Bora, called Khem Nath, Chhim Nimul and Nget Moniroath from the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) for questioning today. It also orders three other union members, Kol Kurn, Ouk Khen and Sem Kosal, to appear for questioning Wednesday.

“All of those people must present [themselves] following the warrant,” the letter reads.

“We summoned these people for questioning because the company representative [Mr. Liu] accused [them] of inciting violence among workers and [leading them] to destroy the factory’s property, but we have no plans to arrest anyone,” Mr. Bora said Sunday.

Yang Sophoan, president of the CATU, said Tainan filed the complaint against the six representatives after workers protested on December 26 at the factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district to demand a doubling of the minimum wage to $160.

“I understand that the Interior Ministry summoned my members. It’s an injustice because they helped workers demanding a pay raise to $160,” she said.

“I also received information that many factory owners filed complaints against me, but I haven’t received any summons from the authorities yet,” she added.

Khem Nath, head of Tainan’s CATU branch, confirmed that he had received a warrant ordering him to appear for questioning this morning.

“I will go along with two other summoned people on Monday…. I am not scared because we just protested to demand a raise in the minimum wage to $160 for the workers,” he said Sunday.

Over the weekend, several members of the military police were also called for questioning at Phnom Penh Municipal Court over their role in garment strikes in the Veng Sreng Street area on January 2 and 3. Five workers were killed and over 40 more injured when security forces opened fire on the protesters.

“About four or five military police went to court for questioning this weekend by an investigating judge, but they were allowed to return home,” National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said Sunday.

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