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Global Day of Action calls for release of 21 detained Cambodian workers

February 11, 2014

(Photo by Solidarity Centre Cambodia - Cambodian garment workers at a freedom park December 25, 2013)

On February 10, trade union and human and labour rights organizations around the world staged demonstrations and delivered messages to Cambodian embassies calling for the release of 21 workers who are being detained for participating in a national strike for an increase in the minimum wage.

Day of Action protests, which took place in Brussels, Canberra, Dhaka, Geneva, Honduras, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Manila, Seoul, Sri Lanka, Tokyo, and Washington DC also called for an end to repression against garment workers and trade unions, an investigation into the violence against protesting workers that resulted in the killing of at least four protesters, respect for freedom of association including the right to strike, and a resumption of good faith negotiations for a just minimum wage. For more information click here  

In Cambodia, protesters defied a ban on public gatherings to stage peaceful protests calling for the release of the 23.

In Canada, 22 human rights, trade union, student, international development and community organizations signed a joint letter  organized by MSN and Workers United that was delivered to the Cambodian Embassy in Washington DC. (Cambodia does not have an Embassy in Canada).

A joint letter  to the Cambodian government was also signed by 12 international human and labour rights organizations, including MSN.

Despite this broad demonstration of support for Cambodian garment workers, a closed-door session of a bail hearing on February 11 refused to release the 21 detainees on bail. Two of the original 23 workers who had been detained were released on bail one day before the Day of Action. Sixteen of the detained workers are currently staging a hunger strike.

As an editorial in the Boston Globe  states, increased pressure from international brands is needed to convince the Cambodian government to end the wave of repression and return to the negotiating table.

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