The International Labour Organization (ILO) [official website], a branch of the UN devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, called for cooperation amongst all parties involved in escalating violence in Cambodia on Tuesday, demanding a release of detained union strikers and a government probe into anti-protest police tactics. Recent demonstrations [press release] have been the combined efforts of government opposition protesting the allegedly rigged election of Prime Minister Hun Sen last year, extending a 28-year rule, as well as garment workers demanding higher wages. Currently, Cambodia's garment industry represents USD $5 billion per year in exports and supports 400,000 jobs. Following the death of four protestors earlier this month, the ILO reiterated [press release] its insistence upon an independent inquiry into police action and arrests.
The political atmosphere in Cambodia has been tense since last year's elections. Earlier this month, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged [JURIST report] Cambodian authorities to exercise restraint when dealing with protestors. Days beforehand, Cambodia banned rallies and marches [Al Jazeera report] in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, and authorities removed more than 1,000 anti-government protesters [BBC report] from the capital the same day. Phnom Penh's governor Pa Socheatvong further stated that until "public order is restored to normal", the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party would not be permitted to hold demonstrations [AFP report].