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LRN Urges Cambodia To Drop Rong Chhun Charges

    Labor Rights Now called on the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia to drop all charges against Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodia Independent Teachers' Association.

    Rong Chhun was freed on bail January 20, 2006 after his arrest on October 15, 2005 in Banteay Meancheay Province at the Poi Pet checkpoint.

    He was detained in Prey Sor Prison on charges he defamed Cambodia's Prime Minister, Hun Sen, in alleged violations of articles 60 and 63 of the penal code, which can carry prison terms of as long as five years.

    The Cambodian authorities also brought the same charges against Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia; Men Nath, president of the Cambodian Independent Civil Servant Association; and Ear Channa, deputy secretary general of the Student Movement for Democracy.

    They and Rong Chhun are part of a broader "Cambodia Watchdog Council" that has criticized the government, in this case over a controversial border treaty.

    "We have no view on that border agreement, but Labor Rights Now does believe that Cambodian union leaders have the right to express views on public issues without being arrested," LRN President Don Stillman said in a letter to Dr. Kosal Sea, Minister-Counselor/Charge D'Affairs at the Cambodian embassy in Washington, DC.

    "We are particularly concerned that Television Kampuchea reported that Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that those who criticize his stance on the border issue may be committing treason and will be dealt with legally," Stillman said.

    The jailing of Rong Chhun and the charges against the other union leaders come in what can only be viewed as an increasingly hostile climate for worker activists in Cambodia.

    "Your government has failed to bring to justice the murderers of trade unionists Chea Vichea and Ros Savannareth," Stillman told the Cambodian Charge D'Affairs. "Other unionists have suffered harassment. Indeed, Rong Chhun was forced to seek intervention by the International Labor Organization over his safety concerns in 2004 and Chea Mony was arrested earlier this year as part of this repressive pattern by Cambodian authorities."

    "Labor Rights Now strongly urges your government to release Rong Chhun, drop charges against him and the other union leaders, and halt the harassment of labor activists in Cambodia," LRN President Stillman said in the letter sent in October 2005.

More Information

ICFTU's Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights in Cambodia

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