Latest Flash News & Articles

Flash News: Caltex workers strike to demand $160 minimum wage
Published on May 12, 2014

This morning starting at 7:00 am, more than 200 workers at 17 Caltex gas stations in Phnom Penh began a strike demanding a monthly wage of at least $160 and other staff benefits. Most Caltex workers currently earn $110/month. Workers plan to continue the strike until their demands are met.

This strike follows broader labor protests in late 2013, when garment workers began to demand a minimum wage of $160/month. In early January 2014, the government violently suppressed labor protests, resulting in at least four deaths, 38 people hospitalized, and 23 rights defenders and workers arrested.

Despite state clampdowns, workers and unions continue to demand wage increases. On February 6, workers at CINTRI successfully negotiated salary raises after going several days on strike: the salaries of trash collectors increased from $65 to $90, while salaries of garbage truck drivers on night shifts increased from $120 to $140. Similarly, on May 11, workers from Angkor Beer/Cambrew completed a two-day strike that led to an increase of their salary from $120/month to $150/month.

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Flash News: Supreme Court denies bail to 21 rights defenders and workers
Published on May 9, 2014

This morning, the Supreme Court announced that it will uphold the decision of the Court of Appeal on February 11, 2014 to deny bail requests for 21 of 23 human rights defenders and workers arrested in early January. None of the 21 defendants were transferred to court for the bail decision.

The Supreme Court provided two reasons for denying bail to the 21: first, the investigation into the cases has already been closed by the investigating judge; and second, the trials are already in progress so defendants should remain in detention to ensure their attendance.

Article 307 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, however, permits defendants to apply for bail release during their trial after investigations have already been closed by the investigating judge.

Families of the 21 detained men and land community activists gathered outside the court to show their support. The trial for all 23 men arrested during labor protests in January will continue on May 20 after authorities adjourned proceedings on April 25 and May 6.

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Flash News: CNRP supporters defy assembly ban with large campaign rally
Published on May 2, 2014

Today, thousands of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters marched across Phnom Penh to mark the start of the campaign for municipal, provincial, city and district council elections. At least five people were injured by security guards, including CNRP supporters, one monk and one journalist, as they waited for the march to arrive at Freedom Park. The journalist was taken to a hospital while LICADHO doctors treated the other injured civilians, including one man who required three stiches.

The march began at the CNRP headquarters mid-afternoon and proceeded along major boulevards across Phnom Penh for about three hours, before arriving in front of the Royal Palace where CNRP leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha addressed supporters. Before leaving the site, they announced that the rally would continue tomorrow.

Phnom Penh has seen a massive security build-up since April 30, when security forces barricaded Freedom Park. Today, the barricade extended to cover Norodom's dragon bridge and Wat Phnom, where hundreds of police armed with tear gas launchers and security guards were stationed. Military police were also positioned next to the Prime Minister’s house and at the Supreme Court nearby the palace.

Flash News: Supreme Court postpones bail decision for remaining 21 of 23 HRDs and workers to May 9
Published on May 2, 2014

This morning the Supreme Court announced that it will not decide whether to release on bail 21 of the 23 rights defenders and workers arrested during labor protests in January until 8:00am on May 9.

On May 6, the trials of all 23 men arrested in January, along with two others arrested in November 2013, will resume at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after judges abruptly delayed proceedings on April 25.

The 21 were previously denied bail by the Phnom Penh Appeal Court on February 11, 2014. Outside the court today, more than 60 monks, land activists, and NGOs gathered to show support. The 21 were not present for the hearing, and remain in CC1 prison.

Flash News: Authorities establish large barricades at Freedom Park denying access ahead of Workers’ Day and election campaign
Published on April 30, 2014

This morning, razor wire, caged trucks and fences were set up to prevent people from accessing Freedom Park for tomorrow’s International Workers’ Day events and during the election campaign which starts on 2nd May. Also this morning, Mu Sochua, CNRP law-maker elect, together with 150 supporters and representatives from land communities tried yet again to enter the park. Sam Rainsy, CNRP leader, made a quick visit to Freedom Park before going to Wat Phnom, and then returning to the barricaded park to give a short speech. Between 400-500 police were stationed at Freedom Park to prevent people from entering.

Sochua’s scheduled attempt to enter Freedom Park was publicly announced on Monday. When Sochua and her supporters were blocked from entering the park, they placed lotus flowers on the razor wire and burned incense.

Flash News: Ceremonies take place to mark two year anniversary of the murder of Chut Wutty
Published on April 26, 2014

Today, groups in Koh Kong and Phnom Penh conducted ceremonies to commemorate assassinated environmental activist Chut Wutty. This day marks two years since Wutty was shot dead whilst accompanying two Cambodia Daily journalists on an investigation into illegal logging in the protected forest of the Cardamom Mountains, Koh Kong.

More than 20 youths and 15 monks assembled at Preah Ang Dongker, Phnom Penh, to pray for Wutty, and to appeal to the government to put an end to illegal logging and to bring to justice those responsible for Wutty’s death. Security guards were present, although no violence occurred. In Koh Kong, where Wutty was murdered, approximately 95 youths, rural community members and monks, including Venerable Sovath, gathered to commemorate his life.

Military police officer In Rattana, who was shot on the same day as Wutty, was blamed for the killing following a highly flawed investigation.

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Flash News: Remaining “Free the 23” detainees moved to Phnom Penh in preparation for Friday hearing
Published on April 23, 2014

Early this morning, the 21 men detained in Kampong Cham province’s CC3 prison since their arrest during January’s widespread strikes were moved to Phnom Penh and will spend the next two nights in CC1 prison. The government’s clampdown left at least four people dead.

The 21, plus two others who were earlier granted bail, will be tried on Friday, April 25, at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in three separate trials. On the same day, a fourth trial will be held for two men arrested during unrest that followed the SL garment factory strike last November during which one street vendor was killed. One of the two is currently detained in CC1 prison whilst the other was previously released on bail.

LICADHO will be live streaming all four trials on Friday, and coverage will begin tomorrow afternoon.

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Flash News: The new year brings renewed violence at Freedom Park
Published on April 21, 2014

This morning, security guards attacked Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) youths, local and foreign journalists, and NGO workers, as they gathered for Mu Sochua's latest attempt to enter Freedom Park. LICADHO provided medical treatment to seven people following the unprovoked assault. Two had open wounds which required stitches and one had a severely bloodied ear. Mu Sochua herself was carried from the park by security guards and received minor injuries.

This is elected CNRP law-maker Mu Sochua's sixth attempt to enter the park since the Phnom Penh municipality banned public gatherings in early January. Her previous attempts have also been brought to a swift end by security forces. She is conducting the protests to draw attention to the lack of freedom of expression in the country.

Flash News: Attack on homes further highlights urgency for lasting remedies
Published on April 6, 2014

This morning, two houses were partially destroyed in Boeung Kak Muoy Commune, Toul Kork District, Phnom Penh. Ly Srea Keng, whose house was attacked, has been involved in a longstanding dispute with Khun Sea Company and has suffered a number of previous attacks against him including physical assault and attempted arson. Some people were injured during the violence and were sent for medical treatment.

LICADHO highlighted this case last week in a statement that marked a renewed upswing in violent land grabs since the start of 2014. Today's action is further evidence that the Cambodian government is failing to address the ongoing land crisis in Cambodia.

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Flash News: Court denies rights defenders’ bail request once again
Published on April 4, 2014

This morning, Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied two separate bail requests for Vorn Pao and Sokun Sombath Piseth because the CC3 prison authorities had not provided the court with details of their health status, and to preserve public order.

Pao and Piseth are among the 23 workers and rights defenders arrested in early January. As supporters gathered outside the court state security forces again used heavy handed force to disperse them.

Piseth was denied his special medical request for bail release to undergo surgery on his hand. He was severely beaten and had his hand broken by state security forces during arrest. Due to the delay in providing appropriate medical care, his hand requires urgent surgery. Vorn Pao was also refused bail, previously denied at the Court of Appeal on February 11, and on March 24.

All of the 23 workers and rights defenders, including Pao and Piseth, will be tried at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court at 8am on April 18.

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Flash News: Phnom Penh Municipal Court trials for arrested workers and rights defenders
Published on March 31, 2014

Today, Phnom Penh Municipal Court announced that on April 4, it will consider the special medical request to temporarily release Sokun Sombath Piseth on bail for five days to undergo surgery on his hand. Piseth who works at the Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia, was arrested in early January along with 22 other workers and rights defenders and has since been detained in CC3 prison. He was severely beaten and had his hand broken by state security forces at the arrest. Due to the delay in providing appropriate medical care, his hand requires urgent surgery.

Vorn Pao, President of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA); Sokun Sombath Piseth; Theng Savoeun, Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC); Chan Puthisak, community leader from Boeung Kak Lake; and six other workers who were arrested on January 2 will be tried at Phnom Penh Municipal Court at 8.00am on April 18. At the same time, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will conduct two separate trials for those arrested on January 3. One trial will be held for Chea Sarath, Yon Sok Chea and Bou Sarith, while a third trial will be held for the remaining 10 of the 23 who were arrested in early January.

Two of the 23, Yon Sok Chea and Bou Sarith, were released on bail on February 8. On February 11, the 21 other men were refused bail at the Court of Appeal and remain detained in CC3. The Court of Appeal again refused Vorn Pao bail on March 24.

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Flash News: Sonando protest cut short by authorities
Published on March 31, 2014

This morning independent radio station owner Mam Sonando was prevented from leading a march from Freedom Park to the Ministry of Information. Sonando had called his supporters to protest the Ministry of Information’s refusal to give him a license for a TV channel and more frequencies for his Beehive Radio station. Before Sonando’s arrival, his supporters were violently dispersed by a large number of security forces, resulting in two men being beaten and sent for medical treatment. One man was briefly detained. He was released after signing an agreement not to participate in future demonstrations. Amid violent shoving by authorities, Sonando gave a short speech to his supporters calling for freedom of information and urging non-violence.

Cambodia currently has no independent TV stations as the Ministry of Information has systematically refused to grant TV licenses to non-CPP (Cambodian People’s Party) affiliated individuals.

Flash News: CNRP lead impromptu march through Phnom Penh
Published on March 30, 2014

Today, around 2000 Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters marched from Wat Botum to the CNRP headquarters passing the Russian Embassy, the Ministry of Information, the Cambodian People’s Party headquarters and National Election Committee office. The march was unplanned and was prompted by the authorities' denial of permission to hold a "People's Congress" in Freedom Park. Since this morning, several roadblocks, checkpoints and a heavy police presence have prevented people from gathering in Freedom Park.

CNRP will hold the congress to discuss the ongoing political deadlock over the results of last year's election. The congress follows this morning's memorial ceremony which took place at Wat Botum.

Flash News: CNRP resumes public gathering with grenade attack remembrance ceremony
Published on March 30, 2014

This morning, more than 1500 people, including Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters, Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy, and some monks, gathered in front of Wat Botum to hold a memorial ceremony for the injured and killed in March 1997 grenade attack. The gathering was the first organized event by CNRP in Phnom Penh since state security forces’ lethal clampdown on freedom of assembly in early January, and the largest public gathering since the Cambodian government put a ban on assembly in January.

Participants encountered several roadblocks, checkpoints and a heavy police presence around Wat Botum and Freedom Park, and many were prevented from attending the ceremony.

This morning’s ceremony will be followed by a ‘People’s Congress’ at CNRP headquarters this afternoon. The congress will discuss the ongoing political deadlock.

Flash News: Communities pray for justice and release of the remaining 21
Published on March 28, 2014

This morning, about 100 community and land activists from Boeung Kak Lake, Borei Keila and Thmor Kol, and three monks gathered in front of Ministry of Justice to conduct a prayer ceremony for freedom for the 23 men, including rights defenders and workers, arrested in early January. They were also demanding justice for those killed and injured during the same clashes.

The group was initially blocked from gathering in front of Wat Ounalom and the ceremony was moved to Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Royal Palace before returning to the Supreme Court for more prayers and songs. Chan Puthisak, a community leader from Boeung Kak Lake, is among the 21 still detained in CC3 prison.

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