While the New Year’s firecrackers signaled hope for people around the world, Cambodian garment workers protesting for a rise in wages faced a violent police crackdown on January 2, 2014. Two days later, Freedom Park in Phnom Penh, where civil society have traditionally gathered, was forcibly cleared by police and mass actions are now banned from the site. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development joins organisations from the region calling on international civil society to hold a Global Week of Action starting Friday, 10 January 2014. It will be a week of protest against state repression of workers and civil society, protection for workers’ right to freedom of assembly, and right to a living wage.
Violent crackdowns were instigated by Cambodian military on 2 January when workers of the Yak Jin factory held a protest asking for a salary increase from the current starvation wage of 80 USD to 160 USD. Soldiers threatened protesters with “metal pipes, knives, AK47 rifles, slingshots and batons” and arrested 10 people including monks and members of civil society organizations.
On 3rd January, protesters rallied at the Canadia industrial park and were met with live ammunition, teargas and grenades, leading to a violent clash that ended in 4 dead and 21 wounded. In all, 23 people have been arrested, their location unknown.
Cambodia’s garment industry comprises 500,000 workers, a majority of whom are women from the rural areas. It provides products for western brands such as H&M, Adidas, GAP, and Walmart. Some of the factories are Korean-owned.
What you can do: On the International day of Action, join us in
• Making social media actions to put pressure on the Cambodian government and global brands manufacturers to raise the minimum wage to $160
Twitter: Tweet your support and add the hashtags #righttolivingwage, #developmentjustice, #160isafairwage, #rightsKH, #protestsKH
Facebook: Post your comments and statements on the Facebook pages of the following companies dealing with Cambodian garment manufacturers: H&M, Adidas, GAP, and Walmart
• Holding protest actions at the Cambodian embassies in your country:
Bangkok, Thailand: 10th January 2014
Meeting time: 10:00AM
Meeting & action place: In front of The Royal Embassy of Cambodia
518/4 Pracha Uthit Rd (Soi Ramkamhaeng 39), Wang Thong Lang, Bangkok
HongKong: 10th January 2014 Meeting time: 10:45AM
Meeting place: Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry (the Five Flagpoles)
Action Place: Consulate of Cambodia in Hong Kong Unit 1218, 12 floor, Star House No. 3 Salisbury Road Tsim Sha Tsui, HK
London: 13 January 2014
Time and venue to be announced
• Seeking support from UN Special Mandate Holders to elevate this issue as an international human rights matter
• Signing online petitions on Avaaz.org and Change.org
If you are interested in joining our International Day of Action, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are preparing a campaign kit that you can use for your actions on that day, which will be available on our website at www.apwld.org