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Union Leader Detained Briefly in Banned March


Phnom Penh police Monday detains a union leader while it tries to block a march on May Day, which is a labor day for some countries.

Police says the march was unauthorized.

President of the Free Trade Union Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Chea Mony, and two of his colleagues were detained for more than two hours for conducting a banned march. They were released two hours later.

Police inspector Chey So Sila says that he does not detain Mr. Chea Mony but only argues with him in the police car.

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy who participates in the march denounces this detention saying the police does not respect the workers' rights.

He says that the workers' demands are legitimate, and that they should be allowed to demonstrate peacefully.

Cambodia Center for Human Rights Kem Sokha monitors the demonstration and supports it by saying it is peaceful. He says that the authorities' ban only reflects its direction toward the wrong road, away from the road toward freedom of expression and democracy. This direction will lead to the international community's protest once again.

Dozens of police officials and military police are armed with protecting shields, electric batons, fire trucks and weapons are deployed along main entries to the capital.

Mr. Chea Mony says that the confrontation between police officers and the workers results in 4 slightly wounded workers.

The workers demand better working conditions, from 48 hours to 44 hours a week, better pay from $45 to $100 a month, and respect for the workers.

The Phnom Penh authorities do not allow this demonstration, but that it can be held in front of the union's headquarter. After a telephone conversation between Mr. Sam Rainsy and deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, the demonstration proceeds from this headquarter to a site near Lanka temple where the union's former leader Chea Vichea's ashes rest.

Mr. Chea Mony, his younger brother, plans to put a wreath on his older brother's grave, then continues to the Independence Monument and the National Assembly building. Mr. Chea Vichea was murdered in 2003.

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