Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Intimidation and Legal Threats Against Union Workers and Leaders Must Cease

American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF) and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)

Joint Media Statement
Intimidation and Legal Threats Against Union Workers and Leaders Must Cease
We, the undersigned organizations, are deeply disappointed with the government’s actions to intimidate and threaten workers and union members who have joined the four-day-garment strike from September 13-16, 2010.
The government’s response to this entirely legal – and long-declared – strike has included attacks on protesters, legal threats against organizers, and the court-sponsored retaliation against union members. This must stop immediately if the two sides are to reach an agreement during upcoming talks on September 27.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mass Worker Strikes Demand Wage Rise in Cambodia

CAMBODIA. Tonight unions and human rights organisations estimate 159,850 garment factory workers struck all around the country today as daily numbers of striking workers increase since Monday. The first day of industrial action saw 53 factories striking totaling 120,000 workers. Fifty-eight thousand workers were prevented from entering the city to join their fellow workers in meetings around the capital of Phnom Penh.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 11 – A Time to Mourn and Celebrate

Once again we approach a momentous date. A time to remember when the world changed.

A Time for Mourning
On first glance we are reminded of a date nine years ago focused on the centers of economic and military might of the United States of America.
     We are called to mourn the loss of lives, both those in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; and also the soldiers who have died, and continue to die, in the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
     We are called to mourn the loss of Iraqi and Afghani men, women and children who have perished in almost countless numbers.
     We mourn the loss of civil freedoms as a result of many countries passing terrible laws allowing for torture and unending imprisonment of suspects and alleged enemy combatants, as well as racial profiling, phone-tapping and the new military mantra of pre-emptive strike.
     We mourn the ongoing financial burden these wars place on the citizens of the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fear-mongering required to perpetuate a desire for security in the guise of technology and weaponry; hatred and exclusion.

A Time for Celebration
     Giving the date another look we will find something quite different; a call to hope, bravery and a vision of the immense power of people resisting evil in all it's forms. On September 11, 1906, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young lawyer, gave a speech that changed history. It was his inauguration speech for satyagraha at the Empire Theatre in South Africa. At that time, South Africa was a colonial outpost of the British Empire. Given the racist and unjust treatment of Indians Gandhi took it upon himself to lead nonviolent action to overturn laws that were unfair, unjust, and dehumanizing. This speech is dramatized in the film "Gandhi" and you can watch the satyagraha speech here.

     In 1906 Gandhi was a little-known failed lawyer on the margins of the world's biggest Empire. But he came to realise that there was power in Truth which he named satyagraha (truth force). The tactics he used were not passive, as many think of nonviolence. He intentionally went out of his way, asking others to do likewise, to push the issues of injustice to the forefront of public life. By refusing to carry identification papers he forced the police and government to respond - often through beatings and imprisonment. By marching thousands of out-of-work miners across state borders he forced the government to respond. With prisons full and Indians unwilling to cooperate with the government there was little choice but to accede to his demands.

     His creative use of persuasion, noncooperation and nonviolent intervention, in South Africa and India, included economic boycotts on British-made cloth and direct challenges to monopoly laws forbidding Indians to make salt in their own country, blazing the way for today's nonviolent activists.

     While we rightly mourn with those who have lost so much since September 11, 2001 we remember with hope that there is a better way to solve our conflicts and achieve justice and freedom. We can still fight, but our weapons are not made from metal and explosives, but from the strategic and collective use of nonviolent tactics as well as our undying search for Truth.
     Finally, we would do to remember that behind (and in front of) Gandhi were hundreds of thousands of people willing to suffer hardship for a better world where all have their basic needs met, and are respected as equal partners of humanity.