WRC Factory Investigation

Yakjin Garment

Factory: Yakjin Garment

Key Buyers: American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Pink, Walmart

Last Updated: 2014

Case Summary

Yakjin Garment is the third largest Korean-owned factory owner in Cambodia. While the firm is headquartered in Seoul, the US investment firm, Carlyle Group, purchased a majority stake in the company in December 2013.

The WRC report “Crackdown in Cambodia,” dated March 24, 2014, detailed deadly attacks by Cambodian security forces on protesting Cambodian garment workers. Starting in December 2013, workers took to the streets to demand an increase in the minimum wage, which is the second-lowest of major garment exporting countries. Factory owners and the government greeted these demonstrations with repression.

One of the most violent episodes took place at the Yakjin Garment factory. On January 2, according to reports from the human rights organization, LICADHO, soldiers from a special military unit known as Brigade 911 arrived outside the Yakjin Garment factory armed with, in addition to regulation AK-47 rifles and police batons, metal pipes, knives, and slingshots ‒ gangland weapons intended to kill, maim, and injure, rather than police equipment designed for dispersing protestors non-lethally (such as tear gas, pepper spray, “beanbag” rounds, etc.). These soldiers assaulted the protesters, according to a Cambodian human rights group, beat more than a dozen people, including garment workers, Buddhist monks, and journalists. According to an eyewitness, soldiers also entered a coffee shop where some workers and other protesters had taken refuge. The soldiers beat one of the female staff of the shop, and then dragged out an activist whom they began beating as well. Brigade 911 detained more than ten protesters, who were then transported to a remote prison and detained without contact for several days. At the time the report was written, these individuals remained in detention and were being denied adequate medical care, despite calls for their release and humane treatment from international human rights groups.

Yakjin Garment has acknowledged that the firm specifically requested that the military respond to protests at the facility. In a press reports, a spokesperson stated the company “called for military intervention by calling on personal relationships with military personnel,” because “the police were not very responsive.”

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