Cambodian labour leader arrested for political comments

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – A prominent Cambodian labour union leader who is a long-time government critic was arrested on a charge of inciting social unrest because of his comments about a politically sensitive matter concerning the country’s borders.

President of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions Rong Chhun was arrested on Friday night at his home and taken to court yesterday to hear the charge against him. If found guilty, he is liable to six months to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of USD244 – USD976.

He had also served on the national election committee of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party before it was dissolved by court order in November 2017, ahead of the 2018 general election. The court’s action was generally seen as intended to ensure victory for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian Peoples Party.

Rong Chhun on Wednesday led several dozen factory workers to present a petition at Hun Sen’s residence asking him to help with their welfare after their factory was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also gave an interview this past week to the United States (US) government supported Radio Free Asia in which he spoke about meeting farmers in eastern Cambodia who complained about their land being infringed upon by neighbouring Vietnam.

Rong Chhun supporters shout slogans in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh. PHOTO: AP