Petition for ASEAN to Step In and Urge the Cambodian Government to Immediately End the Brutal Repression against its People
We, the Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC), together with movements and organizations in the region, call on the Association of the South East Asian (ASEAN) to end its silence on the humanitarian crisis happening within its own backyard and to add its voice to the mounting calls for the Cambodian government’s immediate stop to its brutal repression against its people.
Several weeks ago tens of thousands of garment laborers, majority are women, went on a national strike to demand a higher minimum wage. They were joined by teachers’ unions demanding an increase in their salaries, , transport groups protesting against soaring gas prices, local communities demanding land rights, monks asking for accountability of government for missing religious relics, and other civil society organizations and peoples’ organizations demanding end to the undemocratic rule by the incumbent regime. Ten days through the strike, the political unrest in Phnom Penh escalated to fatal violence. In an attempt to break up the demonstrations, Cambodian security forces open fired on the protesters. Several others were injured and arrested. Subsequently, the Ministry of Interior imposed a ban on all demonstrations until “public order and security is restored.” The Cambodian government also issued a ban on gatherings of at least ten people. Relatives, lawyers and independent medical professionals were denied information as to the whereabouts and medical condition of these detainees. By the time the strike was called off, at least five were shot dead, more than 40 severely injured, and 23 were arrested.
We urge the governments of the ASEAN to step in and impel the Cambodian government to abide by the ASEAN Charter’s governing principles of “democracy” and “respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” “resolving all conflict with peaceful means,” and the ASEAN’s one vision of one caring and sharing community. We call on the ASEAN to compel the Cambodian authorities to:
- Release all detainees immediately without conditions,
- Restore the people’s constitutional rights to freedom of opinion and assembly,
- Investigate and punish the members of its military police who used disproportionate and excessive force against the demonstrators, in violation of international human rights obligations and standards,
- Provide reparation for the victims of brutal repression
- Facilitate new consultations with the workers and trade unions with the genuine objective of responding to issues concerning insufficient wages, inhumane working conditions in factories and other unfair labor practices, and to review the existing minimum wage and prices of commodities, and
- Ensure the workers’ safe return to work without fear of reprisal by their employers.
We further urge the ASEAN, through the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Women and Children (ACWC) to probe and act on the wanton human rights violations committed by the Cambodian authorities against its people, especially the women migrant workers.
Ultimately, we express our solidarity with the Cambodian workers in their long struggle for the protection of their labor rights, for decent working conditions, for fair and sufficient living wage, and for the exercise of their freedom of expression, and their right to self-organization and collective bargaining. We are one with the Cambodian peoples in their quest to move away from years of violent conflict and repression.
We will endure until the day genuine democracy has been won, and has bloomed like the fragrant Romduols in the vast Cambodian fields.
- Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) Forum Asia (FA)
- Burma Partnership (BP)
- Southeast Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)
- Philwomen on ASEAN
- Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau -Philippines
- Gender and Development Initiative-Myanmar
- Equity Myanmar
- Interfaith Youth Coalition on Aid (IYCA-Myanmar)
- People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF-Thailand)
- Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA)
- Kyaw Lin Oo – Myanmar