CITA President Rong Chhun
CITA President Rong Chhun

Cambodia: Educators join global trade union wave of solidarity with union leader Rong Chhun

published 12 January 2021 updated 10 October 2023

Education International is joining with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to express solidarity with Cambodian union leader Rong Chhun prior to his trial on 15 January.

Rong Chhun is the president of the independent Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), a member of the Cambodia Watchdog Council, and former president of the Education International affiliate, the Cambodia Independent Teachers' Association (CITA).

Rong Chhun was arrested on 31 July 2020 for the alleged offence of inciting to commit felony based on comments made on the controversial lost farmlands on the border with Vietnam in Tbaung Khmum province. Another union leader, Sor Saknika, president of the Cambodian Informal Labour’s Association (CILA) affiliated to the CCU, was also arrested on 7 August for joining solidarity protests.

International campaign

A LabourStart campaign was quickly launched by ITUC and Education International, demanding the trade unionists’ release. The international trade union community stresses that the unlawful arrest and detention of Rong Chhun and the criminalisation of his opinions is another dangerous blow against the exercise of the right to free expression and opinion and the right to freedom of association in Cambodia.

“We are also worried about the unhygienic conditions in overcrowded prison cells during the long pre-trial custody of the union leaders,” said David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International.

“The lack of proper public health precautions against COVID-19 raises serious health concerns for Rong Chhun and the other detainees.”