[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Cambodia unveils statue of slain union leader

Rights groups say murder of Chea Vichea, founder of the Free Trade Union, is symbol of country's culture of impunity.

Last Modified: 04 May 2013 05:58
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Statue of Chea Vichea stands across the street from where he was gunned down in broad daylight in 2004 [EPA]

A statue of Cambodia's most prominent union boss, who was gunned down on a Phnom Penh street in 2004, has been unveiled in a rare public recognition of a champion of workers' rights in the impoverished kingdom.

The statute, inaugurated on Friday, is of Government critic and labour activist Chea Vichea was shot dead in broad daylight while reading a newspaper on a street in the capital nine years ago.

Two men have been jailed over his murder, but rights groups and the victim's family allege they were wrongly convicted to protect the real culprits.

Chea Vichea founded the Free Trade Union, which now boasts around 90,000 members mostly employed in Cambodia's lucrative garment industry, which has been at the heart of labour disputes and media scandals over low wages and conditions.

Campaigners say his murder is a symbol of the kingdom's culture of impunity for powerful interest groups determined to muzzle dissent.

Permission to erect the statue - in a park near where he was slain - was for many years denied by the government of strongman prime minister Hun Sen before being granted recently.

It will now stand as a symbol of "gratitude for his physical and mental sacrifice for ... workers across the country," according to the late activist's brother Chea Mony.

Chea Mony, who now heads the Free Trade Union, also called for the release of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun - the two men sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder. The pair allege they were framed by police.

The country earned $4.6bn from its garment exports last year but a series of strikes has pointed to festering discontent in the industry which employs about 650,000 people and produces clothes for top western brands.

The monthly minimum wage for the hundreds of thousands of workers who make clothes for firms such as Levi Strauss of the US and Sweden's H&M this week rose from $61 to $75 following months of protest.

327

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
Cyprus is a tax haven and has long attracted wealthy Russians, but it could become a European energy hub.
Palestinians in Gaza have been shocked by the scale of Israeli destruction, as long-term truce efforts continue.
The Positive Action Foundation Philippines, manned by HIV-positive staff, provides care to those who have no one else.
A former rebel's museum keeps alive memories of the July 26, 1953 veterans who launched Cuba's revolution.
join our mailing list