Cambodia

During his visit to Sri Lanka, Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton said the transfer of refugees to Cambodia would “happen very shortly”.

Dutton said he wanted to send “a small group” to the south-east Asian country to “send a clear message to the remaining people on Nauru that Cambodia is an appropriate option to consider to start a new life”.

The Australian government has been trying to persuade refugees held on Nauru to volunteer to settle in Cambodia, which signed a deal with Australia to take refugees in exchange for aid.

In transmitting President Richard Nixon's orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said: “Anything that flies on everything that moves.”

As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger's murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery — including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields — I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee(CHRAC), a coalition of 21 NGOs, issued the statement below on September 26 in response to the deal with the Australian government to resettle asylum seekers in the impoverished south-east Asian nation.

* * *

CHRAC is urgently calling for the Australian government to release much needed information regarding this deal that has allegedly been struck between the two governments, including:

* The number of refugees that will be resettled from Nauru, Papua New Guinea and other offshore detention centers?

As a deal to resettle refugees from rich Australia to Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world, was signed in Phnom Penh on September 26, poor Cambodians displaced from their villages as a result of land-grabbing by powerfully connected developers, youth, monks and civil society activists marched on the Australian embassy.

Among these protesters was Pisey Ly, an activist with Social Action for Change (SAC), who was interviewed by Green Left Weekly.

Activists demonstrated outside global big brand fashion outlets in the centre of Sydney's central shopping district on September 17 to demand that these companies pay the workers who make their products (in countries like Cambodia) living wages and respect their right to organise.

Other solidarity actions in Australia were held in Canberra and Melbourne.

According to Tailored Wages Report — Are the Big Brands Paying the People Who Make Our Clothes Enough to Live On? published by the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Asia Floor Wage Alliance on March 2014, only four of 50 big brand multinational clothing and footwear companies contacted were able to demonstrate they had taken any steps that might lead to improved wages for the Cambodian workers who make many of their expensive fashion products.

About 300 garment workers, NGO staff, civil servants and media staged a “fashion show” at the United Sisterhood Alliance-Worker’s Information Center (US-WIC) in Phnom Penh on May 25, called “Beautiful Clothes, Ugly realities”.

As the Cambodian government still bans its opponents from using Freedom Park for protests, the fashion show was seen as a new, creative way of getting across our message.

A new report by eight international trade unions and non-government organisations details the brutal government repression Cambodian garment workers were subjected to. It said the workers' demand to raise the minimum wage were reasonable.

Cheang Thida (pictured below) is a young woman local union leader of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) at Kin Tai Factory in Phnom Penh. Last December she led 10,000 workers on a legal and peaceful strike demanding a minimum wage that satisfies the workers' basic needs. As a consequence, she was sacked from her job making Armani Jeans.

I was deeply saddened to read the article by Anne Elizabeth Moore titled “What’s the Price of Workers’ Lives in Cambodia?” published on January 17 in the US-based Truth-out.org website.

This story contained an outrageous attack on the Cambodian garment workers demonstration over the minimum wage by a well-known Cambodian blogger, academic and human rights activist Sopheap Chak.

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