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Workers Mark Anniversary of Labor Leader’s Assassination


A Cambodian worker gives a signature on a poster of Chea Vichea during the 11th anniversary of assassination of Chea Vichea, former head of Cambodia's Free Trade Union of Workers, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian worker gives a signature on a poster of Chea Vichea during the 11th anniversary of assassination of Chea Vichea, former head of Cambodia's Free Trade Union of Workers, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Union activists and workers today mark the 12th anniversary of the assassination of Chea Vichea, a well loved labor leader whose murder has never been prosecuted.

Union activists and workers today mark the 12th anniversary of the assassination of Chea Vichea, a well loved labor leader whose murder has never been prosecuted.

Chea Vichea had the power to connect tens of thousands of workers in protest, during a turbulent time in the restive garment sector. Despite the formation of a joint government committee to investigate his killing, the case has never been solved.

Two men, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who were wrongfully accused of the killing, served five years in prison each, before they were finally released.

A march to commemorate Chea Vichea’s death was banned by authorities Friday.

Chea Mony, brother of the slain activist and head of the Free Trade Union, urged the authorities to finally investigate and prosecute the case. “Those officers who were responsible for the case are getting older,” he said. “Some have diabetes, or hypertension, and their health is not strong, so they could die soon.”

Chea Mony also urged investigations into the cases of two other killed activists, Ros Sovannareth and Hy Vuthy, who were murdered in 2004 and 2007.

For his brother’s case to go unsolved for 12 years means there’s something “behind” it, Chea Mony said. A solved case is a matter of political will, he said. “If they wanted to do it, it would be fast, it may take a few days, because our government is very talented,” he said. “However, if they do not do it, it is up to them, but we will keep criticizing them so that the people will not vote for them.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen in June 2015 ordered the formation of a special committee to investigate the cases of several labor leaders, including Chea Vichea. The committee has not announced a result of its investigation. Em Sam An, an official at the Ministry of Interior, who chairs the committee, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor at the rights group Adhoc, said these and other unsolved murders demonstrate impunity, making justice in Cambodia seem impossible. “Until now we have not seen any investigations take place, and the suspects are still at large,” he said.

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