Photo by Heng Smith for the Associated Press
At least four people were killed outside Phnom Penh on Friday after police fired on protestors demanding higher wages for Cambodia’s garment workers, according to officials and human-rights groups. Chuon Narin, deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, told the Associated Press that four were killed and roughly 20 others wounded after several hundred workers at Canadia Industrial Park—home to dozens of factories that make clothes for Western brands such as Adidas, Puma, and H&M—began burning tires and lobbing bottles, rocks, and petrol bombs at police officers. Witnesses said some officers responded by firing AK-47 rifles both into the air and at ground level.
Photo by Luc Forsyth for AFP
The violence is symptomatic of a growing political crisis in the Southeast Asian nation, where striking workers and anti-government demonstrators are challenging the three-decade rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen. The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which claims vote fraud in July’s election, has garnered the support of some 350,000 garment workers from nearly 500 factories after promising to nearly double the monthly minimum wage of $80 should it win a election do-over.
Cambodian garment workers are demanding a doubling of the $80 minimum wage.
The garment industry is a vital component of Cambodia’s economy, employing more than 500,000 people and accounting for around 80 percent (or $5 billion) of the country’s annual exports.