Garment workers in Cambodia who earn pennies to make many of the high cost clothes we all wear here in America recently went on strike for higher wages. Their job action earned a violent response from the government. Several days ago, four protesters were killed in confrontations with the military. The above video and others produced by Radio Free Asia give a sense of the ongoing protests in Phnom Penh.
The protests and the response don’t seem to be entirely about wages. The ongoing political conflict in Cambodia have blended into this strike. In national elections held last July, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) which has ruled the country since overthrowing the Khmer Rouge in 1979 with the assistance of Vietnam, prevailed although opponents insist the election was not a legitimate one. Background information about this ongoing conflict can be gained on the Wikipedia pages of Hun Sen of the CPP who has been prime minister since 1985 and of Sam Rainsy, a leading opponent of the current regime.
Understanding Lowell politics is a full-time endeavor, so I don’t profess to fully comprehend what’s going on in Cambodia right now. I’d welcome the opportunity to learn more if anyone is willing to try (post a comment or send your remarks to DickHoweJr@gmail.com – I’ll even post them anonymously, if you prefer). From scrolling through Facebook, however, I know that many of our Lowell neighbors who are of Cambodian descent have passionately held positions on the conflict in Cambodia, positions that seem to be on both sides of the dispute. Conflict in Cambodia has an impact on life here in Lowell. The more we all understand the underlying issues, the better.