Demand Release of Wrongfully Detained Demonstrators

Target: Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia

Goal: Release Cambodian garment workers violently arrested during strike

Cambodian officials recently arrested 23 workers during a violent crackdown on a group of garment industry workers on strike. The group of strikers were detained without outside contact and without treatment for their police-inflicted injuries. As a result of the violence, a ban on protests has been imposed.

Recently, garment workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia took to the industrial district to stage peaceful strike demonstrations for increased wages. Government officials, including army forces, were deployed and used excessive force to disperse the crowd, injuring dozens and killing four. Officials were seen firing military assault rifles into crowds of striking workers.

Twenty-three demonstrators were arrested, and held without access to their lawyers or families after their short court appearances. They were detained at the CC3 prison, a facility generally used to house convicted criminals in poor conditions. The prison was presumably chosen for its far distance from the city.

Among the arrested were prominent rights activists and labor leaders. Nearly five days after the initial arrests, they were finally allowed to consult with their lawyers and visit with their families. They also received medical treatment for the injuries sustained days earlier.

The violent incident prompted the government to impose an immediate ban on demonstrations. There is a large police presence in places where people are likely to gather, and those that attempt any further protests are being detained. This is a violation of freedoms of expression, association, and assembly under many human rights agreements to which Cambodia is a party.

These peaceful demonstrators are being held simply for protesting their wages in a demonstration escalated by police. Demand that every activist arrested as a result of this protest be released, and that Cambodia immediately lift its ban on public protests.


Dear Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia,

Recently, 23 activists were arrested when government officials violently dispersed a strike demonstration by Cambodian garment workers. They were denied visitation with their lawyers and families for nearly five days, and went without medical attention to their police-inflicted wounds.

The incident has prompted the Cambodian government to impose a ban on all protests, violating the rights of expression, association, and assembly guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

No government should allow excessive force to be used against their people, nor should it abridge their freedom to strike for increased wages. I ask that all activists arrested during these protests be released without charge, and the ban on demonstrations be lifted immediately. I also ask for an investigation into the use of unnecessary violence by security personnel, which resulted in the deaths of four protesters.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Luc Forsyth via Creative Commons

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