Saturday, 23 January 2010

Cambodia labor union marks killing of leader

via CAAI News Media
AP - Friday, January 22

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia's largest labor union warned Friday that it would launch a nationwide strike unless authorities arrests those responsible for the slaying of their prominent leader six years ago.

Chea Vichea, 36, founder and president of Free Trade Union of Workers, was fatally shot in front of a newsstand in Phnom Penh on Jan. 22, 2004. He was known for his outspoken efforts to organize garment workers and improve working conditions in Cambodia.

Two men were convicted in the deaths and sentenced to 20-year prison terms, but many people believed they were framed for the crime and the country's Supreme Court has ordered a retrial.

Chea Mony, the slain leader's brother and current leader of the union, marked the sixth anniversary of the killing by leading a march of nearly 100 workers and a dozen opposition legislators to the spot where the shooting took place. The march was held under heavy security but was peaceful and no one was arrested.

"Today, I wish to send a message to the government that it is time to arrest the real murderers," Chea Mony said. "If the government continues to ignore our appeals, then we will hold a one-week, nationwide strike," he said, adding that the strike would come some time this year.

In December 2008, Cambodia's highest court provisionally released the two men convicted in the Chea Vichea slaying _ Born Samnang, 24, and Sok Sam Oeun, 36 _ and ordered further investigation in preparation for their retrial.

The court did not give a reason, but the decision came after widespread protests over the convictions.

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