Ministry to Question Rong Chhun Over Teachers Association

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), said Friday that he feels the teachers’ movement is under threat after he received a notice from the Ministry of Interior, summoning him to explain his work on Monday.

The letter, dated Thursday and signed by the ministry’s Deputy Director-General Meas Sarim, said that the purpose of the meeting would be to “discuss the work” of CITA—which was involved in sporadic protests this month by teachers demanding salary increases.

“I will not go, since I am busy on that day for a mission in the provinces,” Mr. Chhun said, declining to elaborate.

Mr. Chhun, who was questioned at the municipal court this week over his role in recent garment factory strikes, which were violently quashed by the military police and soldiers, said he interpreted the latest notice as being a “new threat” against him.

On December 27, Interior Ministry Secretary of State Pol Lim warned Mr. Chhun that he would revoke CITA’s license because of his organization’s involvement with the opposition CNRP, something he strenuously denies.

“It is very strange, because I don’t know what kind of work at CITA they want to discuss,” Mr. Chhun said of his invitation to the ministry.

“But it is not a coincidence, because the Ministry of Interior warned that it would revoke the license,” he said.

CITA, which has more than 10,000 members across the country, decided during its annual congress on December 31 to hold a nationwide weeklong demonstration, calling for a $250 monthly wage for the country’s poorly paid schoolteachers, many of whom earn about $100 per month.

Authorities began clamping down on the movement in early January, with the Ministry of Interior reiterating its threat to revoke CITA’s license and later by ordering some striking teachers to sign agreements that they would end their action.

The Interior Ministry has also said the government does not recognize Mr. Chhun as a union leader, because the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, which he also leads, is not registered.

Mr. Chhun insisted that the teachers’ movement is not politically aligned, and the real problems seems to be that the “CPP is so scared of peaceful protest.”

He said he would continue calling for increased wages despite the threats to his organization.

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