Soldiers Disperse Factory Strike With Gunfire

RCAF soldiers fired AK-47 as­sault rifles to disperse a protest by some 200 garment workers outside Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district CHP Garment factory on Tues­­day, police and workers said.

Lim Ouk, deputy district police chief, identified the soldiers as 10 members of RCAF’s elite Brigade 70, which has built its reputation as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit.

“The soldiers from Brigade 70 were the ones who shot,” Lim Ouk said. “The soldiers were de­ployed to protect the factory.”

But, he added, “It is illegal to shoot.”

Brigadier General Mao Sophan, the commander of Brigade 70, said Tuesday afternoon that he was not aware of a deployment of his troops to the CHP factory.

Listed phone numbers for CHP did not work Tuesday.

Cheat Khemara, a senior labor consultant to the Garment Manu­fac­­turers Association, said that the factory belongs to Cambodian own­er Oknha Chea Soeun.

The 200 workers were demonstrating to demand that their union leader, Khmer Youth Union representative Mann Borei, be reinstated to his job after being fired in March.

“They shot between our legs… to make us run,” said garment work­er Chen Sok, 26. “They shouldn’t have shot at us.”

“The workers just protested without touching the factory,” worker Han Thona, 17, added.

Secretary-general of the CHP Khmer Youth Union, Kin Sok, said that the factory fired Mann Bo­rei in order to break up the union. She also alleged that the fac­tory hired a man to beat Mann Bo­rei during work hours and then fired the union leader on false grounds of fighting on the job.

Yun Rithy, the president of the Khmer Youth Federation of Trade Unions, also alleged that the factory hired a man to slap Mann Borei in the face. “He didn’t fight back,” Yun Rithy said.


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