Cambodia: Rong Chhun praises “solidarity between workers”

photo: AFP

Rong Chhun has thanked the ITUC and everyone who showed him solidarity during his detention, and he has called on workers and unions to keep up the pressure on the Cambodian government.

The president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) was freed from prison on 12 November 2021 along with fellow labour rights advocates Sar Kanika and Ton Nimol.

“Freedom and human rights have been deteriorating in Cambodia for the past five years with the dissolution of opposition parties and a new law making it difficult to register independent trade unions that are not under the government umbrella.

“Trade unions have lost their voice, they are in fear of expressing their opinion, and they fear being accused of inciting social disorder and being criminally charged.

“We need trade unions across the world to support each other when they come under attack like this and to put pressure on governments that violate basic rights like in Cambodia.

“I try to promote the freedom of all workers around the world, I support solidarity between workers, and I thank the ITUC for supporting this,” said Rong Chhun, speaking by video to the ITUC Human and Trade Union Rights Committee.

“This must be a start”

The Phnom Penh Appeals Court dropped the remainder of the sentences against the three activists, but they all remain on probation and face restrictions related to travel and other activities for three years.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “This is great news. I thank everyone for their solidarity, but these detentions never should have happened.

“Other global unions and the UN are on the record with serious concerns about the repression of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Cambodia.

“This must be a start of something, not the end. The Cambodian government must prove its commitment to basic human rights by stopping these kinds of arrests and dropping the charges completely against these activists. They should not have a criminal record for exercising their basic freedoms.”

Rong Chhun was arrested in July 2020 for comments on Facebook about Cambodian farmers on the border losing land to Vietnam.