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Asia Pacific unions demand Cambodian government release Rong Chhun

10 August, 2020The Asia Pacific offices of the global union federations, including IndustriALL Global Union, call on the Cambodian government to immediately release the president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU,) Rong Chhun, and drop all charges against him.

In a joint press release dated 4 August 2020, global unions condemned the arrest of Rong Chhun, who was arrested by the police at 9:30pm on 31 July in Phnom Penh. The authorities accused him of spreading fake news and “incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest” after he made remarks relating to the Cambodia-Vietnam border issue.

Reportedly, Rong Chhun criticized the Cambodian government for ignoring the encroachment by Vietnamese authorities onto farmers’ land by installing a border marker at Tbong Kmom. This irregularity led to farmers losing lands and livelihoods.

The global unions urged the Cambodian government to the respect trade union leader’s freedom of expression and fundamental human rights, as well as to uphold the principles in the ILO Convention 87 and international human rights treaties ratified by Cambodian government.

Yang Sophorn, the president of Cambodian Trade Unions Federation (CATU), which affiliates to CCU and IndustriALL, says:

“The arrest of Rong Chhun has violated the Constitution of Cambodia which guarantees freedom of expression of Cambodian citizens, no one should be punished just because giving fair comment on politics, social and cultural issues.

“As labour and human rights activist, Rong Chhun has been courageously defending rights and benefits of workers, teachers, civil servants, police and soldiers who suffered injustice. Suppressing his free speech is obviously a violation of human rights”   

IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary Annie Adviento says :

“We have serious concerns over the pattern of invoking fake news provisions in Cambodian national laws to persecute trade union leaders. Several months ago, another local union leader, Soy Sros, was detained without trial for two months simply because she criticized her company on Facebook.

“A respected union figure such as Rong Chhun deserves better than this unreasonable investigation for “incitement”. Release Rong Chhun immediately!”