Union Leader Accuses Police of Harassment

One of the organizers of the re­peated demonstrations outside Phnom Penh’s Sam Han garment fac­tory said police hired men to threaten him on Sun­day.

Arn Nath, 27, the leader of the De­mocratic Worker’s Union at the recently closed factory in Rus­sei Keo district, Tuol Sangke com­­mune, said that men in civilian clothes have been following him and making threats against him to his neighbors.

“I went to collect thumbprints from workers on Friday morning in order to file complaints in court for our compensation,” he said. “Then there were two men wearing civilian clothes following me on motorbike. I was scared and de­­cided to escape from them in other ways.”

Chhorn Sokha, deputy director of the Coalition of Cambodian Ap­parel Workers Democratic Union, said that police officials told Arn Nath’s neighbors that any union or­­ganizer trying to foment protest at Sam Han would be arrested.

“I will file a complain in court to de­mand worker compensation and for the intimidation of a factory union leader,” she said.

Tuol Sangke police Chief Khat Da­rasy, however, denied Sunday that police harassed Arn Nath.

“Our police are busy protecting the Sam Han…factory,” he said.

Police last week fired shots into the air and used electric batons and tear gas to disperse hundreds of workers who repeatedly protested in front of the factory last week.

Some of Sam Han’s 10,000 work­ers were paid two months back salary by a special $390,000 government loan two weeks ago after the factory’s South Korean owner left the country and the government declared Sam Han closed. Workers are demanding legally required indemnity payments due to them for the closure.

Arn Nath said that he has re­quested protection from the US Em­­bassy.

US Embassy spokesman David Gainer said Sunday that the Em­bassy had not received a request for protection, from Arn Nath or factory workers, but did not deny that Arn Nath had spoken with embassy staff recently.

(Additional reporting by Erik Wasson)

 

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