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Cambodian trade unions, right groups urge authorities to arrest perpetrator for shooting workers

PHNOM PENH, March 15 (Xinhua) — Thirty-two trade unions and right groups in Cambodia urged the local authorities to arrest former-governor of Bavet city Chhouk Bandith for shooting protesting garment workers on Feb. 20, a joint statement released to the media said on Thursday.

“Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has identified the suspect of the shooting as being Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, and we strongly urge the government of Cambodia to make the suspect’s arrest an utmost priority,” said the statement.

“We also urge a proper trial and judgment in accordance with the law,” it added.

Locally well-known Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO); the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union; the Cambodian Independent Teachers’Association; and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee are among the groups that made the appeal.

Chhouk Bundith is the only suspect for shooting three Cambodian garment workers in a mass protest at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone (SEZ),Bavet city, Svay Rieng province and was removed from his post on March 5 by Prime Minister Hun Sen to make way for the court to look into the case.

On March 5, the Svay Rieng Provincial Court issued a letter to summon Chhouk Bundith for questioning over his role in the alleged shooting. However, so far, his whereabouts are unknown.

The three victims in the shooting are Buot Chenda, 21, with the bullet hit her chest and exited her back, and the two others are Keo Nea and Nuth Sakhorn, who got minor gun wounds.

Svay Rieng is located some 167 kilometers Southeast of Phnom Penh and bordered by Vietnam.

Garment industry is the country’s largest income maker. The sector earned 4.24 billion U.S. dollars last year, or 87 percent of the country’s total export revenue.

The country currently has more than 300 garment factories, employing more than 300,000 people, mostly women from rural areas.

Low wages and poor working conditions have led to frequent strikes in Cambodia, where the minimum monthly wage for a worker is 66 U.S. dollars.

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