January 31, 2023

Cambodian union leader Sithar Chhim remains in prison after a judge denied her request for bail on January 19. Sithar was arrested after returning from the International Trade Union Confederation congress in Melbourne in November last year. Authorities said she violated her parole conditions, which included a restriction on travel. However, Sithar said she was never informed about travel restrictions and has not been provided with parole conditions.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both called on Cambodian authorities to drop the charges against her and release her from prison. Amnesty said: “Cambodian authorities are misusing the justice system to target and harass Sithar solely for her labor rights work as Labor Rights Supported Union leader.”

Sithar was previously detained in December 2021 and held for four months for leading a strike of hospitality workers at NagaWorld hotel and casino in Phnom Penh. Workers are protesting against the unfair termination of 365 workers and the detention of union leaders.

Activists gathered in front of prison today to call for the release of imprisoned leader Sithar Chhim.

NagaWorld strike continues

Workers have now been striking at NagaWorld for 13 months.

The daily protest outside the casino has continued despite harassment from police, including mass arrests, and forcing strikers onto buses and moving them to COVID-19 testing sites.

The striking workers say they will continue their protest until the company negotiates with their union.

Australian Council of Trade Unions President Michele O’Neil said in December: “Sithar Chhim should be released immediately, with all charges dropped. The ACTU joins the international union movement in condemning her arrest and will be closely monitoring this situation.

“We call on the Cambodian Government to release Ms Chhim immediately and drop all charges against her. The persecution of union leaders and working people around the world breaches their international labour and human rights and should be condemned.”

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