Camboya - Two protesting bus drivers arrested and many injured

Two bus drivers were arrested and 14 people were injured during a violent attack outside the Capitol Bus Company on 6 February 2016. The bus drivers had been taking part in a lengthy protest against the dismissal in 2015 of 45 employees who had attempted to form a union, a branch of the Cambodian Transport Workers Federation (CTWF), in the hope of improving their extremely poor working conditions.

Video footage shows members of the employer-backed Cambodia for Confederation Development Association (CCDA), clothed in black and wearing helmets, rushing at the CTWF protestors and violently beating them with sticks, metal bars and hammers. The incident left at least 14 people injured, including protesting bus drivers and their supporters, one human rights monitor and one police officer. One individual suffered an arm fracture while many others had facial injuries from blows to the head.

One of the dismissed Capitol Bus drivers, Nan Vanna, a member of the CTWF, and Cambodia Informal Worker Association (CIWA) official Ruos Siphay were arrested. They were charged with aggravated intentional violence, obstructing public officials and obstructing a public road. None of the people who carried out the beatings were arrested, however.

On the same day, four leaders of leading independent trade unions, including Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC); Sok Chhun Oeung, president of the CIWA; and Cambodian Transport Workers Federation (CTWF) secretary Eang Kim Hun were also charged with the same three offences. The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) noted that none of the four leaders were present during the incident and commented that their prosecution suggested a targeted crackdown on the entire trade union movement. It also pointed out that no effort was made to bring the real perpetrators of the violence to justice.

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