Tag Archives: clashes

Commemoration on Veng Sreng Street

A monk looks inside a medical clinic that was destroyed by protestors during clashes with police early in January. When clinic's doctor refused to help a wounded protestor, an angry mob forced entry, smashing and looting the interior.

A monk looks inside a medical clinic that was destroyed by protestors during clashes with police early in January. When the clinic’s doctor refused to help a wounded protestor, an angry mob forced entry, smashing and looting the interior.

A small ceremony was held yesterday near the Canadia garment factory complex on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. A group of around fifty people, a mix of monks and citizens, gathered to show their support for the six dead and the twenty-three detainees still being held by the government after deadly clashes early in January.

The group gathered as the sun set, lighting candles and incense. Though bail hearings for the detainees are scheduled later this month, little is known about what fate awaits them.

Candles and stickers are arranged to spell "Free 23", in support of the six dead and 23 detainees resulting from deadly clashes early in January.

Candles and stickers are arranged to spell “Free 23”, in support of the six dead and 23 detainees resulting from deadly clashes early in January.

Monks and citizens arrange candles before the ceremony begins.

Monks and citizens arrange candles before the ceremony begins.

A monk lights incense before the religious portion of the ceremony begins.

A monk lights incense before the religious portion of the ceremony begins.

A monk lights sticks of incense.

A monk lights sticks of incense.

A man lights a stick of incense before the ceremony begins. The small group of roughly 60 people was comprised of both monks and citizens.

A man lights a stick of incense before the ceremony begins. The small group of roughly 50 people was comprised of both monks and citizens.

A young man hold his hands in prayer while listening to Buddhist prayers.

A young man hold his hands in prayer while listening to Buddhist prayers.

A man delivers a speech, commemorating the dead and supporting the 23 detainees.

A man delivers a speech, commemorating the dead and supporting the 23 detainees.

A small shrine of candles and incense.

A small shrine of candles and incense.

The ceremony ended as the sun set. Bail hearings for the 23 detainees are sheduled for later in February.

The ceremony ended as the sun set. Bail hearings for the 23 detainees are scheduled for later in February.

Posted in Blog, Cambodia Also tagged , , , , , |

Cambodian Garment Factory Crackdown

Police attempt to storm a building occupied by protestors following a violent crackdown on striking garment workers, who were demanding a wage increase.

Police attempt to storm a building occupied by protestors following a violent crackdown on striking garment workers, who were demanding a wage increase.

The crackdowns on people protesting in support of garment factory workers made international news for a few days running, something that isn’t always typical of events in Cambodia.  Along with my colleagues in the Ruom Collective, our images from the clashes were published in nearly every news source of note, and amid the ensuing tidal wave of work it has been difficult to put the events into perspective. As a result, I’ve been finding it hard to put the recent violence out of my mind and so I’ve been hesitant to post anything from those days. Succeeding professionally on the back of a tragedy creates conflicting emotions in most people (myself included), so I wanted to make sure I had a chance to reflect clearly about what really happened – and what it means for the country.

I’m going to hold off publishing a full set of pictures until I have a little more time to think, but for now here are a few that give a basic sense of what happened.

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 The first days of 2014 were some of the most dramatic in recent Cambodian history. Not since 1998 had the country seen such violence. Wide-spread and large-scale protests, combined with strong anti-government sentiments, created a powder keg environments – and the police crackdown on garment factory workers, and others protesting on their behalf, was the spark that set it all off.

On January 2nd, a standoff between striking factory workers and members of the Cambodian army’s 911 Airborne Unit erupted into a sudden and unexpected street battle, which ended with the arrest of 10 protestors – including monks and union leaders. Several hours later, police forces aggressively dispersed a similar demonstration across town at the Canadia garment factory, reportedly beating several of the female protestors.

In response, residents of the area surrounding the factory blockaded the roads leading into the neighbourhood and started street fires – refusing to leave until hundreds of police stormed the area. Though the street was cleared without heavy resistance, the more militant protestors occupied a large apartment building nearby.

A siege situation developed and lasted late into the night. During repeated attempts to storm the structure, several police officers were injured. Ultimately the police were unable to clear the protestors from their stronghold and returned to their base, but the stage had been set for what was to come.

Special Forces soldiers from the 911 Airborne unit beat an observer from a non-profit organization after a stand off between the military and striking garment workers erupted into violence.

Special Forces soldiers from the 911 Airborne unit beat an observer from a non-profit organization after a stand off between the military and striking garment workers erupted into violence.

Protestors burn a wooden cart near the Canadia garment factory. People in support of striking garment workers attempted to fortify their neighbourhood in anticipation of the police or military response.

Protestors burn a wooden cart near the Canadia garment factory. People in support of striking garment workers attempted to fortify their neighbourhood in anticipation of the police or military response.

Police charge a protestor-held street after a standoff lasting several hours.

Police charge a protestor-held street after a standoff lasting several hours.

Early on the morning of January 3rd, the protestors returned to man their barricades. Police arrived to retake the area, this time firing live rounds rather than wielding rubber batons. At least four people were killed. Though the main body of resistance was broken, smaller groups faced off against police and Special Forces units throughout the morning.

A wounded man is carried out of the battlefield after being shot by police.

A wounded man is carried out of the battlefield after being shot by police.

Soldiers sit outside a medical clinic after retaking the area from protestors.

Soldiers sit outside a medical clinic after retaking the area from protestors.

On January 4th, seemingly intent on preventing any further protest, police surrounded Freedom Park, the major rallying point for the Cambodian National Rescue Party – the main opposition party. Uniformed officers and plain clothed citizens, armed with wooden rods and pieces of rebar, forced CNRP supporters – largely comprised of rural seniors – out of the park. For the next hour they destroyed the tents and stage that had been host to daily rallies since October.

Police and plainclothes CPP supporters charge into Freedom Park, the main rallying point for opposition party events.

Police and plainclothes CPP supporters charge into Freedom Park, the main rallying point for opposition party events.

CPP supporters tear down the tents and other temporary facilities which have been standing in Freedom Park since December.

CPP supporters tear down the tents and other temporary facilities which have been standing in Freedom Park since December.

The long-ruling CPP has decided to decisively stamp out its opposition and the future of Cambodian democracy is uncertain.

 

Posted in Blog, Cambodia, Protest Also tagged , , , , , , , , |