Human rights group the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) has condemned the “violent” suppression of a mass rally in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

The group said at least eight people were injured at the rally on Sunday (26 January), which was organised by nine unions and associations calling for the release of 23 workers arrested during strike action earlier this month.

Their detention was linked to industrial unrest over disputed minimum wage increases and claims of harassment and violence against defenders of human rights.

FORUM-ASIA said the violence followed a “blanket ban” on all protests in Phnom Penh and a rejection of the protest organisers’ notification of the planned rally.

“Any restrictions to peaceful assemblies should strictly comply with international human rights norms and standards, including the principles of necessity and proportionality,” said Evelyn Balais-Serrano, executive director of FORUM-ASIA.

“Isolated acts of sporadic violence or punishable acts must not deprive individuals of their right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”

Four demonstrators were killed in clashes between armed police and protestors in early January after garment workers went on strike as part of the minimum wage dispute.