Shooting Death of Popular Activist Roils Cambodia

Siem Reap in Cambodia

Siem Reap in Cambodia. Photo by US Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome.




Cambodian civil society expressed shock on Sunday at the shooting death of an activist and critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, a killing that came amid months of political tensions as the country faces elections next year.

Kem Ley, 46, researcher and leader of the advocacy group Khmer for Khmer was shot two times in a store at a gas station in the capital Phnom Penh, police said a statement.

Reuters news agency quoted Eng Hy, a spokesman for the National Military Police, as saying “Kem Ley was shot dead” and the agency quoted a Cambodian Interior Ministry statement as saying a 38-year old suspect has been arrested, and has admitted to killing Kem Ley in a dispute over money.

Hun Sen took to social media to condemn the slaying and order an investigation.

“I pay my condolences over the death of Kem Ley, who was shot by a gunman,” Hun Sen said on his Facebook page. “I condemn this brutal act.

Ou Virak, founder of the NGO “Future Forum,” said Cambodia has lost “a hero in the hearts of all Khmer. “

“We lost a good human being who has participated in social and political activities to push Cambodia to move forward,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service.

An official of the domestic human rights group LICADHO, Am Sam Ath, told RFA that his and other watchdog groups demand that the government handle the investigation carefully.

“We of civil society insist that authorities investigate the motive of this shooting death properly to dispel suspicion that the killing of Kem Ley is political,” he said.

Full story: rfa.org

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Yanny Hin. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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