This morning a mixed group of over 1500 trade unionists, workers, farmers, tuk tuk drivers and youths rallied in central Phnom Penh to celebrate International Labour Day and call for respect for workers’ rights, freedom of association, freedom of expression and the living wage.
The peaceful gathering was met with heavy deployments of para-police and riot police carrying batons and tear gas guns. The rally was obstructed by barricades and cordons of mixed forces for over two hours before eventually being permitted to march a short distance towards the National Assembly before again being blocked and prevented from marching the final 200 metres.
Representatives of the gathered groups delivered speeches in which they publicly stated their demands before submitting a petition to a representative of the National Assembly. Earlier in the rally, the authorities attempted to prevent speakers from using microphones. Many participants wore red headbands and emblazoned with the slogan “Our Rights” while others carried banners demanding respect for their rights.