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Armed Security Forces Deployed at Major Factory Sites

Riot police officers attend a training session ahead of demonstrations in central Phnom Penh, file photo.
Workers taking part in an ongoing labor strike say they are now feeling threatened by a bolstered deployment of security forces patrolling factories.

Labor leaders say the presence of armed security forces, as well as weapon-mounted vehicles, have been increased at major factory sites, along highways and in industrial zones.

Workers have been encouraged not to take part in overtime work, in a display of solidarity as they demand a minimum wage of $160 per month. But some now say they are getting nervous.

“Since last month’s demonstrations, there have been about 20 soldiers deployed here,” said Chroeub Touch, 24, a worker at the Canadia Industrial Zone, where some of the worst clashes between police and protesters took place in January.

“But during the overtime strike, another two military trucks and 10 more soldiers were mobilized,” he said. “They brought along a vehicle armed with an automatic weapon.”

Other sites heavily patrolled include National Road 4, the Bavet Industrial Zone near Vietnam, and factories in Svay Rieng and Kampong Cham provinces.

National police spokesman Kheng Tito said the deployment is to prevent “unlawful” demonstrations and to “maintain security” for workers.