The latest NagaWorld protester to be summoned to court was active during rallies, beating a wooden drum as workers sang labor anthems.
Sang Sophal, who received her summons this week, turned up to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday morning to ask for a delay. However, she was supposed to appear on Tuesday morning, though she had only received the summons later that evening. So the court said they could not accept her request for a delay, but would contact her about the next step, according to Sophal.
Sophal is the last among six NagaWorld protesters known to have been summoned to court over three charges: breaking and entering, intentional damage, and confinement. The last charge can carry prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Protests against the Phnom Penh casino began last December in response to mass layoffs of more than 1,400 workers that targeted union leaders and activists, which the protesters allege amounts to union busting.
Sophal said she had been active during the long-running protests, speaking on loudspeakers and beating drums during rallies.
Like the other five who have been summoned, Sophal said she had no idea what NagaCorp was accusing her of. A company representative on Wednesday hung up on a reporter when asked about the case.
The accusation of confinement was especially puzzling, she said, pointing out how protesters had been repeatedly forced onto buses and taken away from the casino site to a quarantine center on the outskirts of the city.
“During these 10 months the company has treated us badly and detained us at the quarantine center at Prek Pnov without providing food or water,” she said. “Who detained whom?”
The protesters are set to return to the casino on Friday. Their near-daily rallies have reduced to only Fridays and weekends, though authorities are now allowing them to stand in front of the casino rather than block them with barricades or remove them on buses.
Sophal said she would continue to seek the reinstatement of around 200 people, including top union leaders, who rejected last year’s layoffs.