NagaWorld workers returned to strike outside the Australian Embassy Wednesday afternoon, a day after union president Chhim Sithar was violently arrested by plainclothes police at the strike site.
Undeterred by a slew of arrests, workers returned to their strike, resuming their sloganeering, blowing horns and voicing their demands, which now includes the release of the nine jailed union members.
There was a lighter police presence on Wednesday and workers ended the 19th day of their strike around 6 p.m.
Bun Davin, a worker at NagaWorld for the last 13 years, said the strike would continue till the workers’ demands were met.
“After having arrested our union leader, we still have one stance: that we are here to demand that the NagaWorld company release nine union leaders and return to the negotiation table. When they arrest our leaders, there will be no solution.”
The authorities had arrested 17 workers near NagaWorld 2 on Monday, including one pregnant woman. The police confirmed on Tuesday that the pregnant woman was released on Monday itself and the others were released from detention on Tuesday.
Lim Rithea Ratana, one of the 17 casino workers released Tuesday, said he was ready to rejoin the protest even though he was made to sign a contract by the police to not join the “illegal protest.” Ratana added that he was aware of what was legal and illegal.
“All our people have the right to protest and to express their views. I do not know how to say it correctly, but so far there is no pull back,” he said.
The protest has taken place this week right outside the Australian Embassy, which on Wednesday said it was “aware” of the ongoing strikes and encouraged all parties to resume negotiations.
Sithar, the arrested union leader, had arrived at the site on Tuesday afternoon after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued an arrest warrant for her and eight of her union colleagues.
Six of the nine were already charged and sent to detention earlier this week.
The other two, Sok Narith and Sok Kongkea, were also arrested on Tuesday and presented before the court with Sithar.
Local rights group Licadho confirmed that Sithar and Narith were sent to pretrial detention Wednesday afternoon, whereas Kongkea was released on bail and placed under judicial supervision. Court documents released on Fresh News at 6 p.m. confirmed the same information.
All nine unionists are charged with incitement after the government characterized their strike as illegal.