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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thy Sovantha barred from Kem Ley's funeral

Monk gather around the body of 46-year-old political activist Kem Ley during his funeral on Sunday at Wat Chas pagoda.
Monk gather around the body of 46-year-old political activist Kem Ley during his funeral on Sunday at Wat Chas pagoda. Pha Lina

Thy Sovantha barred from Kem Ley's funeral

Social media celebrity and former opposition supporter Thy Sovantha was physically blocked from attending the funeral of slain political commentator Kem Ley yesterday, in what she called an act of discrimination.

Sovantha told the Post she and a group of 10 people – including student group leader Srey Chamroeun, who spent months hounding acting CNRP president Kem Sokha after allegations of an affair emerged – brought a wreath to pay their condolences to Ley’s wife and family. But she was barred from entering the pagoda by an angry group, who yelled that Sovantha had “sold out the nation”, she said.

“Our purpose was to not to publicise any party,” Sovantha said.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith took to Facebook to condemn the actions of the funeral attendees. “[F]or funerals, even without invitation, we always join. Why are some Khmer people changing their precious tradition?” he wrote.

Thach Ha Samang, chief abbot of Samaki Rainsy pagoda, who observed the incident, said that people were incensed because they perceived Sovantha as pro-government, and the government as responsible for Ley’s death.

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