Magazine article New Internationalist

Blanket Assault on Garment Workers

Magazine article New Internationalist

Blanket Assault on Garment Workers

Article excerpt

CAMBODIA

Seventeen-year-old textile worker Yon Chea says he will never attend a protest again.

He spent weeks in one of Cambodia's most notorious prisons after being arrested, along with 22 others, when strikes over labour conditions turned violent last January.

'They [the police] hit me all over until I was unconscious,' he said. 'When I woke up, a police officer told me, "I will put an iron pole in your mouth if you keep talking."'

Chea was beaten so severely that he lost hearing in one ear and the use of one of his hands. Though since released on bail - unlike 21 other prisoners, who are still detained - he was laid offby his former employer and is now jobless.

He says he came to the strike to take photos with his camera phone. At the same demonstration on 4 January, military police opened fire, killing four protesters.

Garment workers are not the only ones feeling the heat. Human rights have deteriorated across the board in 2014; security forces have beaten up journalists and public assembly was banned for a time in the capital, Phnom Penh. …

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