Police Detain Labor Union Leader After Protest

Police detained Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, in front of the union’s headquarters Thursday after dispersing a garment workers’ demonstration earlier in the day in front of the Min­istry of Commerce. Also de­tained was Heng Sophoan, FTU rep­resentative at the Su Tong Fang garment factory.

FTU Secretary-General Man Seng Hak said police released the two men around 5 pm on Thurs­day.

The incident took place after some 300 workers from Su Tong Fang marched to protest the firing of one of their fellow workers and the alleged beating of another work­er by a factory security guard.

Pal Chanrat, chief of Daun Penh district’s Boeung Raing commune, said Thursday that Chea Mony and Heng Sophoan had not been ar­rested but rather were invited to district headquarters for questioning.

“Chea Mony held a horn crying for rally and disturbed people near the US Embassy,” Pal Chanrat said.

Garment workers and witnesses denied the account, saying Chea Mony had not been part of the march.

They said a group of about 30 union activists were blocked from entering their headquarters before police violently pushed the two men into a waiting police vehicle.

The detentions come days be­fore the first anniversary of the Jan 22 fatal shooting of Chea Mony’s brother, former FTU president Chea Vichea.

“Police prevented us from entering our place,” worker Chhim Chan­tha, 25, said. “We did not want to hold a protest near the embassy.”

Mann Seng Hak said police also used force to break up the march on Norodom Boulevard.

But commune Chief Pal Chan­rat said workers were simply told to disperse and they had agreed.

He added workers require gov­ern­ment permission before holding marches.

Mann Seng Hak said the gov­ern­ment has never given the FTU permission to do so.

Su Tong Fang workers have been demonstrating since last Sat­urday at their factory for $300 to $500 compensation for worker In Sothearoth over the alleged beating.

Labor ministry facilitator Khem Ben Chhean said Tuesday that the security guard accused of beating the worker had not been fired but that “a resolution is underway.”

(Ad­ditional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)

 

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