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Jan-09-2014 07:32printcomments

Cambodia: Trade Union Leader and Human Rights Defender Mr Rong Chhun Issued with Court Summons

Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Rong Chhun as they are solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights. —William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com

Mr Rong Chhun
Mr Rong Chhun

(WASHINGTON, DC) - Human rights defender Mr Rong Chhun is due to appear before court on 14 January 2014. He was summonsed on grounds of allegedly inciting garment factory workers to demonstrate for a wage increase.

Rong Chhun is president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions and of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), in addition to being a labour rights advocate. CITA strives for improvements in teachers' working conditions and lobbies the Cambodian government to recognize teachers’ rights.

Since 26 December 2013, clothing factory workers in Phnom Penh have been striking and demonstrating in demand of a bigger wage increase (to 160 USD per month) than that currently proposed by the government (100 USD per month). On 3 January 2014, the security forces violently dispersed the demonstrations.

On 31 December 2013, during its annual congress, CITA decided to hold a nationwide demonstration beginning on 6 January 2014 demanding a monthly wage of 250 USD for schoolteachers. The organisation notified the government of their intent the same day. On 1 January 2014, the Ministry of the Interior threatened to revoke CITA's license if it went ahead with the planned demonstrations; the reason cited was Rong Chhun's involvement in the garment workers protests. Subsequently, CITA was forced to cancel the demonstration.

This latest summons is not the first Rong Chhun has received in relation to participation in demonstrations. Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal on 5 September 2012 on similar judicial harassment.

Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com is concerned that the summons received by Rong Chhun as well as the threats to revoke the license of the CITA are directly related to their peaceful and legitimate activities in the defence of human rights, in particular labour rights, as well as to the exercise of the legitimate right to peaceful assembly, and sees this as an attempt to put an end to these activities. The summons also comes in the context of the above-mentioned nationwide strikes by garment workers and a heavy-handed reaction by security forces. Front Line Defenders published an urgent appeal on 8 January 2013 concerning the detention of three human rights defenders during this crackdown.


Mr. Hun Sen,
Prime Minister,
Office of the Prime Minister,
41 Russian Federation Blvd,
Phnom Penh,
Kingdom of Cambodia.
Fax: +855 23 360666 / 855 23 880624 (c/o Council of Ministers),
Email: cppparty@gmail.com

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes,Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.

Human rights defender Mr Rong Chhun is due to appear before court on 14 January 2014. He was summonsed on grounds of allegedly inciting garment factory workers to demonstrate for a wage increase. Rong Chhun is president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions and of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), in addition to being a labour rights advocate. CITA strives for improvements in teachers' working conditions and lobbies the Cambodian government to recognize teachers’ rights.

Since 26 December 2013, clothing factory workers in Phnom Penh have been striking and demonstrating in demand of a bigger wage increase (to 160 USD per month) than that currently proposed by the government (100 USD per month). On 3 January 2014, the security forces violently dispersed the demonstrations.

On 31 December 2013, during its annual congress, CITA decided to hold a nationwide demonstration beginning on 6 January 2014 demanding a monthly wage of 250 USD for schoolteachers. The organisation notified the government of their intent the same day. On 1 January 2014, the Ministry of the Interior threatened to revoke CITA's license if it went ahead with the planned demonstrations; the reason cited was Rong Chhun's involvement in the garment workers protests. Subsequently, CITA was forced to cancel the demonstration.

This latest summons is not the first Rong Chhun has received in relation to participation in demonstrations. Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal on 5 September 2012 on similar judicial harassment.

I am concerned that the summons received by Rong Chhun as well as the threats to revoke the license of the CITA are directly related to their peaceful and legitimate activities in the defence of human rights, in particular labour rights, as well as to the exercise of the legitimate right to peaceful assembly, and sees this as an attempt to put an end to these activities. The summons also comes in the context of the above-mentioned nationwide strikes by garment workers and a heavy-handed reaction by security forces. Front Line Defenders published an urgent appeal on 8 January 2013 concerning the detention of three human rights defenders during this crackdown.

I urge the authorities in Cambodia to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Rong Chhun as they are solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights;
  2. Refrain from revoking the license of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA);
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances the legitimate freedom to strike and to protest at the working conditions of garment factory workers and schoolteachers in Cambodia;
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Cambodia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Yours Sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com
Twitter @wnicholasgomes
www.williamnicholasgomes.com

- See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/24615/action#sthash.rpwcHWpq.dpuf

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