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Statue to Remember Slain Unionist Will Go Forward

A scene from the documentary "Who Killed Chea Vichea?" Chea Vichea, a popular Cambodian union leader, was assassinated on January 22, 2004, in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian laborers will eventually see a statue erected of slain union activist Chea Vichea, who was killed in a brazen daylight attack in 2004.

Prime Minister Hun Sen wrote to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema Dec. 31, ordering him to allow the statue near Independent Monument in the capital, not far from the scene of the Jan. 22, 2004, killing.

Chea Vichea was a powerful labor leader able to amass large rallies. His killers have never been brought to justice.

Chea Mony, the brother of the slain leader and current head of the Free Trade Union, said workers have been requesting a statue for years, but that he had not put in a recent request. He wrote Hun Sen over the weekend to thank him.

“We deeply thanked him for allowing” the statue, Chea Mony said.

However, Rong Chhun, president of the Independent Teachers Association, said Cambodians did not need a statue, but rather a legal system that brings people to justice.

“The most important thing is we don’t want to see real murderers and the people behind it still out of the legal process,” he said.

Am Sam Ath, chief investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the authorities need to arrest “the real killers.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said authorities have not been given a mandate from the court to renew their investigation.