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Police Open Fire on Striking Garment Workers

In Cambodia, 'appalling use of extreme lethal force' marks second day of clashes

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Five people were reportedly killed after police opened fire on striking garment workers in Cambodia's capital on Friday.

Police used "prolonged" live ammunition against striking garment workers in Cambodia. (Photo: LICADHO) Workers from hundreds of the country's garment factories demonstrated in Phnom Penh's Canadia Industrial Park, home to dozens of factories that make clothing for well-known western brands including H&M and Puma, demanding a doubling of the minimum wage, currently set at $80 a month.

According to local human rights watchdog group Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), security forces shot live ammunition directly at civilians, and used tear gas and grenades, leaving 21 injured in addition to the five killed.

"The use of live ammunition was prolonged and no efforts appear to have been made to prevent death and serious injury," according to a statement from the group.

"We condemn this appalling use of extreme lethal force by security forces," said Naly Pilorge, LICADHO Director. "Security forces must now put an immediate end to the use of live ammunition against civilians and ensure that all those injured are safely transported to hospital without delay."

The violence marked a second day of clashes between garment workers and police. During the police crackdown on Thursday, rights groups say police detained and violently beat workers, union leaders and monks.

"These latest horrific developments demonstrate why authorities can no longer afford to ignore the social problems and poor living conditions facing workers in Cambodia today," said Moeun Tola, head of the labor program at the Phnom Penh-based Community Legal Education Centre.

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