[Marxism] Striking Cambodian garment workers killed in brutal repression: interview, photos and video

Stuart Munckton stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Mon Jan 13 21:59:13 MST 2014

An estimated 700,000 Cambodian garment, accessories and footwear workers
(90% of whom are women) are among the lowest paid in this globalised
industry. They produce fashionable products sold at high prices in the West
under big brand names like Gap, Walmart, H&M, Puma, Nike, Adidas, Columbia
and Levi Strauss.

On December 24 last year, about 50,000 to 100,000 of these workers began
taking strike action after their demand for a US$160 minimum wage was met
with an official offer of just US$95.

The strike was growing fast and began to combine with the political
opposition's call for new elections following a disputed general election
result last year. However, brutal military intervention against the
strikers on January 2-3 – which resulted in the killing of at least four
workers and serious injuries to many more – have forced an uneasy
suspension of the strike.

According to a report in the *Cambodia
Major General Roth Srieng, the commander of the Phnom Penh Municipal
Military Police, defended the shooting of workers: “We cannot allow them to
block the road and we have to crack down on them.”

Many workers, some of whom have been badly beaten up according to the Cambodian
League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights
are still being detained in a military camp. (See LICADHO's graphicphoto
album <http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/album/view_photo.php?cat=61> of what
it has described as “worst state violence against civilians to hit Cambodia
in fifteen years”.)

On January 4, an opposition protest camp in Freedom Park was also violently

*Green Left Weekly* interviewed Chrek Sophea, a former garment worker who
is now the interim coordinator of the Worker’s Information Centre (WIC), a
women garment workers' base association in Phnom Penh.

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is humanity’s
original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made,
through disobedience and through rebellion.” — Oscar Wilde, Soul of Man
Under Socialism

“The free market is perfectly natural... do you think I am some kind of
dummy?” — Jarvis Cocker

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