Tag Archives: garment workers

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.

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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 , , , , , , , , |

Cambodian Crackdown

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.

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 – with some estimates as high as six. Though the main body of resistance was broken, smaller groups faced off against police and Special Forces units throughout the morning.

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.

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

Striking garment factory workers and the Cambodian army's 911 Airborne unit face off. Garment workers across Cambodia have been engaged in a long-running campaign for wage increases, which has been rejected by the government.

Striking garment factory workers and the Cambodian army’s 911 Airborne unit face off. Garment workers across Cambodia have been engaged in a long-running campaign for wage increases, which has been rejected by the government.

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 errupted 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 errupted into violence.

A truck driver is stuck in traffic as demonstrators in support of striking garment workers block National Highway 4.

A truck driver is stuck in traffic as demonstrators in support of striking garment workers block National Highway 4.

Protestors pile debris to create barricades against police following a violent crackdown on garment factory workers requesting a wage increase.

Protestors pile debris to create barricades against police following a violent crackdown on garment factory workers requesting a wage increase.

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.

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.

Police fire tear gas at a building occupied by protestors.

Police fire tear gas at a building occupied by protestors.

A protestor waves the Cambodian flag while police attempt to clear the area.

A protestor waves the Cambodian flag while police attempt to clear the area.

Protestors near the Canadia garment factory during a police incursion into the area.

Protestors near the Canadia garment factory during a police incursion into the area.

Protestors carry objects out of a nearby medical clinic to be used as fuel for street fires.

Protestors carry objects out of a nearby medical clinic to be used as fuel for street fires.

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.

Ashes coat the road in front of the Canadia garment factory the morning after police and military forces recaptured the area from protestors.

Ashes coat the road in front of the Canadia garment factory the morning after police and military forces recaptured the area from protestors.

The mostly empty houses inside the Canadia garment factory. An estimated 80% of workers fled the area in fear of further persecution.

The mostly empty houses inside the Canadia garment factory. An estimated 80% of workers fled the area in fear of further persecution.

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.

People flee Freedom Park. A mixture of police and plainclothes CPP supporters charged the area, weilding batons, clubs, and pieces of rebar, declaring the area closed for all demstrations for a period of three days.

People flee Freedom Park. A mixture of police and plainclothes CPP supporters charged the area, weilding batons, clubs, and pieces of rebar, declaring the area closed for all demstrations for a period of three days.

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.

A CPP supporter prepares to strike an image of Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, the leaders of the Cambodian National Rescue Party - the main opposition to the government.

A CPP supporter prepares to strike an image of Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, the leaders of the Cambodian National Rescue Party – the main opposition to the government.

 

 

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Garment Workers March on Council of Ministers

Garment workers took to the streets today after their demands for a wage increase were rejected again by the government of Cambodia. The protest began outside the Ministry of Labour building, but after hearing the disappointing result thousands of demonstrators moved towards the Council of Ministers. The government was apparently well prepared for the action; hundreds of riot police waited for the group as they walked east on the Russian Boulevard.

Though the protest was essentially peaceful, the police stretched immense barbed wire barricades across the road and multiple officers were armed with tear gas launchers – tools not typically seen at minor demonstrations.

The event lasted all day so I didn’t have time to put together a lengthy written article – but I wanted to get something out before New Year’s Eve. The protestors left the area as the sun set, announcing they would be back tomorrow, so there will definitely be more to come. As we move into 2014, let’s hope this widespread government protesting can stay peaceful.

Crowds of garment workers and supporters gather outside the Ministry of Labour building, waiting to see if the government has agreed to their demands.

Crowds of garment workers and supporters gather outside the Ministry of Labour building, waiting to see if the government has agreed to their demands.

A representative of the garment worker's union leaves the Ministry of Labour building as protestors wait outside the walls to hear if the government has agreed to their demands.

A representative of the garment worker’s union leaves the Ministry of Labour building as protestors wait outside the walls to hear if the government has agreed to their demands.

Garment workers load into large trucks for transportation to the Council of Ministers building after their demands were rejected by the government.

Garment workers load into large trucks for transportation to the Council of Ministers building after their demands were rejected by the government.

Reinforcement units move towards the barricade lines.

Reinforcement units move towards the barricade lines.

The garment workers are demanding a pay increase to $160 per month, claiming their current wages are not enough to live on.

The garment workers are demanding a pay increase to $160 per month, claiming their current wages are not enough to live on.

Police and protestors face off accross the barbed wire barricade as the size of the demonstration grows.

Police and protestors face off accross the barbed wire barricade as the size of the demonstration grows.

Police push through a barrier set up by protestors, moving the group away from the Council of Ministers building.

Police push through a barrier set up by protestors, moving the group away from the Council of Ministers building.

Protestors stay at the barricades until late in the afternoon.

Protestors stay at the barricades until late in the afternoon.

A boy collects waterbottles that protestors have thrown over the barricades.

A boy collects waterbottles that protestors have thrown over the barricades.

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