Cambodia again arrests more than 100 NagaWorld Casino strikers — Radio Free Asia
Authorities in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh again arrested more than 100 striking NagaWorld casino workers on Friday, the latest in a string of brutal mass arrests since the strike began more than three months ago.
Some of the 158 strikers who were arrested this time told RFA’s Khmer Service that they were forced onto buses and taken to a quarantine facility on the outskirts of town, but were not given were allowed off the buses for several hours, enduring extreme heat to the point that some of them began to vomit.
“It was horrible. We are just workers. They used such brutal measures. The authorities pushed me into a truck and my arm was injured when they stopped me,” Pov Raksmey told FRG.
Lay Sopheaktra, another detained worker, told RFA that she believed the authorities wanted to torture the workers so that they would not dare to gather for further protests.
“I am very sad that we are protesting for our jobs, but the authorities are denying us our rights and attacking us,” she said.
Thousands of NagaWorld workers quit their jobs in mid-December, demanding higher wages and the reinstatement of eight jailed union leaders, three other jailed workers and 365 others who they say were unfairly fired from the workplace. hotel and casino, which is owned by a Hong Kong-based company in Cambodia that is believed to have ties to family members of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Cambodian authorities called the strike “illegal” and alleged that it was backed by foreign donors as a plot to overthrow the government. But a series of mass arrests in recent weeks have been attributed to alleged breaches of pandemic health regulations in the Cambodian capital. Activists said the charges were fabricated to break the strike.
RFA reported on Wednesday that 147 of the sacked workers had accepted compensation, but the remaining strikers are still demanding the release of their union leaders and for the company to negotiate with them.
RFA attempted to reach Phnom Penh municipal police spokesman San Sok Seiha to comment on Friday’s arrests, but he was unavailable.
Video footage of Phnom Penh authorities arresting striking NagaWorld workers on Friday.
A Cambodian workers’ rights group told RFA that authorities have used similar tactics to break up peaceful protests.
“The authorities and NagaWorld Casino must seek a solution. If they continue the violence, the crisis will get worse,” said Khun Tharo, work program manager at the Center for Labor and Human Rights Alliance.
He urged the Ministry of Labor to intervene for the release of 11 imprisoned union leaders and workers to allow workers and NagaWorld to resume talks.
The workers arrested on Friday said authorities released them from the quarantine center after detaining them without medical attention for a few hours. They said they would continue their fight if there was no solution.
RFA reported on Tuesday that Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng planned to lead a meeting of government officials on Wednesday to resolve the dispute.
Also on Wednesday, authorities in Phnom Penh released around 200 strikers detained the day before as they demonstrated.
On Thursday, an appeals court refused bail for the eight union leaders on the grounds that their case is still under investigation by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.