LICADHO - Video: Workers & Political Activists under Attack in Cambodia
Year 2014 - The Cambodian government used barbaric military forces to savagely kill its own people. They killed and seriously injured many people who held peaceful protest to demand better living wages.
Year 2014 has opened to a sustained campaign of violence and arrests in Cambodia. This video looks back at events which occurred on January 2,3, and 4, 2014.
To: CEOs and Heads of Corporate Social Responsibility of Puma and Others,, PUMA
Dear CEOs and Heads of Corporate Social Responsibility of Puma and Others,
We write to you to demand justice for Cambodian garment workers Ms. Bun Chenda, Ms. Keo Nea and Ms. Nuth Sakhorn.
On 20 February 2012, an unidentified male approached a group of around 6,000 workers in Manhattan Special Economic Zone (MSEZ). They were protesting the poverty wages and exploitation that epitomize the Cambodian garment industry. That man shot three young women aged 18 to 23 for requesting a pay increase of 50 cents per day. During the shooting the police did not assist the victims. It was fellow workers who aided them onto motorbikes to be taken to the hospital. Police officers aided the shooter’s escape by running alongside him to a neighbouring factory.
We watched as one of those young women, Ms. Bun Chenda, 21, struggled for her life at Calmette Hospital whilst money was thrown at her to buy her silence. During the search for the shooter Minister of Interior, His Excellency Sar Kheng, came forward to proclaim “we know who the shooter is...We have evidence.” His Excellency identified the only suspect of the shooting as Bavet Governor, Mr. Chhouk Bandith.
Bandith was consequently removed from his position on 5 March 2012. Following this, Svay Rieng Provincial Prosecutor, Mr. Hing Bun Chea admitted Chhouk Bandith had confessed to the triple shooting, yet he was still not arrested. Eye witnesses such as police officer Mr. Long Phorn have been silenced and ignored.
The evidence against Chhouk Bandith is overwhelming yet he remains a free man, demonstrating that Cambodia is completely devoid of the rule of law. This case and the powerful interests behind it make a mockery of the Cambodian judiciary and the standards of social responsibility that you claim to uphold.
Your codes and standards demand rule of law, just remuneration and freedom of association yet you stand idly by as the judiciary is manipulated to allow a public official to shoot three demonstrators requesting an increase in wage.
As it stands we cannot consider these codes or standards as anything more than empty words.
We call on your integrity to prove to your supply chain, to your customers and to your shareholders that you value human life, human dignity and justice as purported under CSR initiatives such as the Puma Safe initiative. We demand that you make it known to the Royal Government of Cambodia that your business is conditional on the independence of the Cambodian judiciary and hence justice for victims of the brutal Bavet shooting.
We bring to you attention your statement dated 9 March 2012 which provides that you “will continue to stand by Cambodia through this period and support constructive dialogue between all parties that respect the rule of law and guarantee workers a fair and safe working environment.”
We bring to your attention that this case and the powerful interests behind it have trampled on the rule of law. Further, the precedent of impunity set in this case ensures that we are not equal before the law and that no one is safe. We bring to your attention the hypocrisy of your statements and your respective codes of conduct.
We remind you that your consumers and shareholders as well as local and international trade unions, networks and labor support organizations will be watching as Chhouk Bandith stands trial on 21 May 2013. You are obliged to act. The future of the Cambodian garment industry and the lives of those therein, depend upon on it.
Yours sincerely, Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions (CCU) Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) Cambodian Food and Service Workers' Federation (CFSWF) Independent Democratic of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC) Cambodian Independent of Cervil Servant Association (CICA) Cambodian Worker Center for Development (CWCD) Building and Woodworkers’ Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) Union Federation of ASEAN Workers (UFAW) Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) Workers’ Information Center (WIC) Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA) Khmer Institute for National Development (KIND) Strey Khmer Organization People’s Action for Change (PAC), Cambodia American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), Cambodia Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) Globalization Monitor Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) SOLIDAR The Global Network International Federation of Workers' Education Associations (IFWEA) United Workers Congress, United States National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), United States Korean Federation of Public Services and Transportation Workers' Unions (KPTU) Society for Labour and Development, India Garment and Allies Workers Union, India Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU), India SITRASACOSI, El Salvador FUERSA, El Salvador STIT, El Salvador CEAL, El Salvador FEDOTRAZONAS, Dominican Republic
They're known as the BK13 and they're not prepared to let greedy developers take the very, very little they have. They're 13 women -- mothers, grandmothers - who live around what used to be Boeung Kak Lake -- not far from the centre of Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh. The lake has been filled in and many of their neighbours have been moved on - their houses flattened - but the BK13 aren't going anywhere. They're going to defend their homes with every ounce of energy they can muster. They'll need to.
"Every time we leave our home is the same as a soldier going to fight on the battlefield. Every time we leave we face arrest and they beat us. We don't know if they will use violence against us or if we will lose our lives." Tep Vanny -- BK13
Phnom Penh is growing fast as Cambodia races to join Asia's development frenzy and busily renovates itself as a competitive, commercial destination. But as the capital expands, thousands of lives are being crushed. Beyond the city many more developments are pushing people from their homes. A half a million residents have been forcibly evicted in recent years.
Indeed when Foreign Correspondent first threw the spotlight on this issue in 2006 we visited a community of people who'd been marched from their shacks into a shanty of tents and plastic sheeting as the monsoonal rain threatened to wash it all away. We found a shirtless man wailing and railing at the injustice.
"We're all human beings! Why have they done this to us? It's so painful. It would be better if they killed me!" he yells, soaking wet. Six years later, as we return to Cambodia to re-examine the issue, South East Asia Correspondent Zoe Daniel sets off to discover what happened to him. She finds him in appalling conditions. A motley shack the size of a garden shed with half the roof missing and mosquito larvae writhing in the shower recess. Like many evictees Chan Meng has found himself in temporary accommodation and could be moved on again at any time.
"They want to move us around like cats and dogs!" Chan Meng Evictee
Zoe discovers that the issue of forced evictions has worsened over time. The BK13 may have become a cause celebre among Cambodia's poor and dispossessed and an inspiration to the powerless but they are feeling the pressure. They've been dragged into police vans, subjected to cursory court hearings, summary justice and jailed. Only international pressure brought their release.
And in the thick of the melee over land tenure and home ownership we meet Australian lawyer Matt Rendall, instrumental in drafting new land laws that are supposed to protect otherwise powerless occupants. Cambodia's land ownership was thrown into chaos when Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge extinguished private title. Rendall admits money and corruption are playing havoc with the new arrangements.