Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kem Ley memorial allowed

Kem Ley memorial allowed

Supporters pay their respects to slain political analyst Kem Ley yesterday outside the Star Mart in Phnom Penh where he was murdered last year.
Supporters pay their respects to slain political analyst Kem Ley yesterday outside the Star Mart in Phnom Penh where he was murdered last year. Heng Chivoan

Kem Ley memorial allowed

As slain political commentator Kem Ley’s memorial service wound down at his family home in Takeo province yesterday, around 50 civil society members and unionists held a short prayer ceremony at the Caltex petrol station where he was gunned down last year, a day after a similar gathering was met by around 40 district security guards.

On Sunday, Kem Ley supporters attempted to place a photo of the popular commentator at the site of his murder, but were prevented from doing so by Chamkarmon district security guards, who took away a framed photo of Ley held by food worker unionist Ou Tepphalin.

However, yesterday, staffers from rights group Licadho, housing rights NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut and members of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation were able to perform a prayer ceremony outside the station’s Star Mart, where Ley frequently drank his morning coffee.

Around 20 security guards and police officers were stationed nearby but did not intervene in the proceedings.

“[Sunday] they stopped us and that is a restriction of the right to assembly and expression,” said Tepphalin. “[Yesterday] we paid respects [to Kem Ley], and they can see that there was no violence here.”

Supporters carry a portrait of the late political analyst Kem Ley yesterday outside the Star Mart in Phnom Penh, where he was assassinated.
Supporters carry a portrait of the late political analyst Kem Ley yesterday outside the Star Mart in Phnom Penh, where he was assassinated. Heng Chivoan

In Takeo, Ley’s brother Kem Rithisith said the turnout was smaller than on Sunday – the first day of the memorial – but he was still pleased to see his brother’s legacy remaining strong a year after his death.

“We are happy that many people from all walks of life come to participate on his anniversary to commemorate his death,” he said.

On Sunday, more than 1,000 people across the country paid their respects to the popular analyst, including opposition leader Kem Sokha and party officials.

A coalition of 164 rights groups marked the occasion with the release of an open letter on Friday asking for an independent and impartial investigation into the Ley killing. It called for a thorough exploration into two possible accomplices of Ley’s killer, Ouet Ang, who was sentenced to life in prison in March. Though Ang was given a life sentence for the murder, many – including some authorities – suspect he did not act alone, but an opaque investigation into the killing yielded few leads.

Reacting to the letter, Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap took to his Facebook page to defend the court’s proceedings, adding that details of the investigation could not be made public.

“The court’s continued investigation procedures cannot [be] disseminated in public because it [will] impact the secrecy of the investigation,” he said.

For Licadho’s Naly Pilorge, Ley’s high-profile murder calls for more transparency. “Ley’s death and work were in the public domain,” she said. “The burden is on the government to provide answers about the investigation and follow-up.”

This sentiment was shared by Vuth Thean, who attended the Caltex prayer ceremony, and argued that the government had nothing to lose from conducting a transparent investigation, the absence of which only raised more questions.

“The government treated the case as very straightforward without following international and national standards that we can trust,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,