Updated: NagaWorld Workers in the Dark After Reaching Prek Pnov Facility

4 min read
Security and health officials on Tuesday again detained NagaWorld strikers as they attempted to return to their protest. (Kuoy Langy/VOD)

Security authorities today continued detaining NagaWorld unionists as they attempted to return to their strike, with officials again citing Covid-19 measures as they pushed the workers into waiting buses and transported them away.

At about 2 p.m., the arriving strikers were met at the intersection of Sothearos and Sihanouk boulevards by a waiting group of police and blue-gown-wearing medical personnel. The officials had also brought two buses to the location, which is almost directly overlooked by the NagaWorld casino complex.

A reporter at the site watched officials load about 12 of the arriving strikers into a bus for roughly 20 minutes before it drove away, making way for the arrival of two more buses. Officials again forced about 30 strikers into one of these vehicles.

Though the NagaWorld unionists seemed to be expecting this official response, authorities dragged or lifted some strikers to push them into waiting buses. (Kuoy Langdy/VOD)

Ros Lyheng, one of the workers detained today, told VOD from one of the buses that the unionists inside had been told they were being taken to the same quarantine facility in Prek Pnov district that officials used last night to detain and test about 60 workers for Covid-19. Little is known about that center, which appears to be affiliated with a non-governmental organization called the Cambodian Women for Peace and Development center.

 Lyheng also confirmed that 39 people had been detained by the police on Tuesday.

Though the first confrontations appeared less rough than those the day before, when officials were recorded shouting and shoving strikers into a bus, on Tuesday authorities could still be seen lifting and dragging some unionists as they pushed them into the bus. Reporters watched security members dragging one woman toward the vehicle, while others carried a different woman completely off the ground. 

By 2:45 p.m., another bus had arrived, bringing the total to four waiting at the site. As of publication, officials have continued detaining workers as they arrive.

In the evening, workers said they were unsure if they were going to be tested and if they had to sign a contract in order to go home — as their colleagues had done on Monday. 

Sixty-four workers were tested at the quarantine facility on Monday, of which two tested positive for the virus. The workers said they were forced to sign contracts, after which 62 went home and the pair with Covid-19 were sent to a hospital before midnight. 

Seak Kanha, a detained worker, said the group on Tuesday had been barricaded at the facility but were not being tested or told what was happening. She said a health official was standing near them but would not say if they were getting tested.

“We asked what [documents] to fill, or to take a test or do something else?” she said. 

Phnom Penh deputy governor Keut Chhe did not comment on the detentions, directing queries to City Hall spokesperson Met Measpheakdey who said he didn’t have any new information but knew that medical teams were on the job. 

“Their team is skilled, they are already working. Wait a minute, the government has issued a press release, please wait and see the press release,” he said.

The release, seen by VOD on Tuesday night, stated the municipal authorities did not intend to restrict the workers but were only following health measures because there had been positive cases among the group of strikers.

On Monday, workers said authorities had claimed that as many as 300 workers had not completed a second round of testing, following a seven-day isolation period that ended last week. Workers have refuted this accusation.

The NagaWorld union’s strike has been hit by a slew of arrests with nine union members charged for incitement of violating the Covid-19 law, eight of whom still remain in jail. Four others were summoned by the Phnom Penh police for also violating the Covid-19 law, but were told last week the case had been forwarded to a court.

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