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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 January, 2004, 05:27 GMT
Funeral for Cambodia union boss
Funeral march for union leader Chea Vichea, Phnom Penh
Many of the mourners were clothing factory workers
Thousands of Cambodians have joined a funeral march for union leader Chea Vichea, who was gunned down in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

The crowd carried wreaths and wore black and white headbands calling Chea Vichea a "workers' hero".

Chea Vichea organised unions at clothes factories and was associated with Cambodia's opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

His death was the latest in a series of suspected political killings apparently targeting government critics.

I heard that he's a good man who fought for the freedom of the workers
Lak Sina, bystander
Chea Vichea was president of Cambodia's Free Trade Union of Workers (FTUWKC), one of the country's most active unions, with about 30,000 members.

His coffin was accompanied by Buddhist monks heading a convoy of trucks from the union headquarters to the cremation site, a public park outside the royal temple Wat Botum.

'Political killing'

"He was a good union leader who always helped us in trying to win rights and freedom," said one female worker who joined the procession.

Lak Sina, a woman who watched the march go by, close to the roadside news stand where the union leader was shot, told the Associated Press news agency:

"I never knew this person, but I heard that he's a good man who fought for the freedom of the workers. I pity him very much."

Sam Rainsy, leader of the opposition party which bears his name, has said that Chea Vichea "was a target of the current regime", because of his stance against corruption and human rights abuses.

The union has also said that the killing was politically motivated.

Cambodia is still without a proper government after the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) failed to win an overall majority in last year's elections.

The opposition parties have warned that the murder of the labour leader is likely to cast a shadow over negotiations currently under way to form a government.

At least three members of the opposition have been killed in recent weeks.

Cambodian union boss shot dead
22 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
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12 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Cambodia
11 Nov 03  |  Country profiles

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