Police brutality towards garment workers in Phnom Penh

Siena AnstisThe police have a track record in Cambodia of being violent towards demonstrators. This Sunday was no exception. The police broke up demonstrations by 8,000 garment factory workers leading to the injury of eight women. The police also arrested two union leaders. From Cambodian NGOs LICADHO, ADHOC, and CLEC:

May 8, 2011 – ADHOC, CLEC and LICADHO strongly condemn the government’s brutal dispersal of union garment workers in Phnom Penh on Sunday morning during an ongoing strike over a labor dispute that begun with the recent burning of the workers’ factory. The protest left at least eight workers injured, some seriously.

Approximately 2,000 workers from Mithona garment factory gathered on Sunday morning at the burnt factory on Ponchentong Road near the capital’s airport. The group intended to temporarily block the road to draw the attention of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was scheduled to return from abroad via the airport, to their situation. The action was organized by a local wing of the Free Trade Union Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC).

Shortly after the workers initiated their roadblock, some 100 military police and police officers – armed with anti-riot shields, electric batons and guns – moved in to disperse the crowd. They fired warning shots into the air, and beat dozens of protesters. Police also reportedly drove motorbikes deliberately into the crowd, which was made up predominantly of women.

A total of eight female workers were taken to a local hospital for treatment. Their injuries included head wounds, trauma, and lacerations, two of which required stitches. Two female workers were also arrested: local FTUWKC factory leader Peng Chou, 38-years-old, and local FTUWKC member Meas Narin, 32-years-old.

Continued.

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