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Cambodia: Court summons issued to trade union leader and human rights defender Mr Rong Chhun
On 29 August 2012, human rights defender Mr Rong Chhun received a summons to appear at Kandal Provincial Court on 11 September for questioning in relation to criminal allegations made against him. Rong Chuun is President of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions and a prominent labour rights advocate.
The summons issued to Rong Chhun relates to a complaint made by Mr Jack Liu, Director-General of Tai Yang Enterprises, alleging that the trade union leader incited Tai Yang Enterprises employees to protest illegally and also accusing him of defamation. It is reported that Mr Wu Ming Huor, a factory manager for Tai Yang Enterprises, also accused the human rights defender of destroying the company's business, claiming that several large international customers have drastically reduced their orders as a result of a strike at Tai Yang Enterprises factories.
The complaint against Rong Chhun relates to protests against the reported refusal of Tai Yang Enterprises to pay bonuses provided for under national labour law. These protests began on 25 June and over 3,000 workers have taken part in a number of peaceful demonstrations. It is believed that the allegation of defamation against Rong Chhun may be related to comments he made about the changing of the name of the company. During the protests he reportedly said that Tai Yang Enterprises had changed its name in order to avoid paying seniority bonuses to staff and taxes to the state.
Authorities attempted to arrest Rong Chhun on several occasions during the protests. However, the striking workers surrounded him on each occasion in order to peacefully prevent his arrest.
Front Line Defenders believes that the summons received by Rong Chhun is directly related to his peaceful and legitimate activities in the defence of human rights, particularly his attempts to improve working conditions in Cambodia, and is concerned that this may be an illegitimate attempt to intimidate the trade union leader and Tai Yang Enterprises employees into desisting from any further protest actions.