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Family of Murdered Political Analyst Granted Asylum in Australia

Bou Rachana, the late Kem Ley's wife, sobs while holding a portrait of her late husband at a funeral procession, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, July 24, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

Bou Rachana fled to Thailand while heavily pregnant and gave birth to her fifth son while living there.

The family of murdered political analyst Kem Ley has been granted asylum in Australia after fleeing Cambodia for Thailand last year and living under the protection of the United Nations.

Bou Rachana, Ley’s wife, and her five children arrived in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday, according to Hong Lim, a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly.

Ley was gunned down in broad daylight at a gas station in Phnom Penh on July 10, 2016. A suspect was arrested and later confessed to the crime, but many Cambodians suspected a wider conspiracy and allegations of a targeted assassination ordered by members of the security forces were not investigated during the trial.

Rachana fled to Thailand while heavily pregnant and gave birth to her fifth son while living there.

“She arrived safely in Australia on Saturday,” Lim said. “We are happy that she is here and she is also happy.”

The Cambodian-Australian community is planning a welcoming ceremony for them on Saturday at Wat Put Raingsey in Melbourne.

“The community has contributed their money and provided spiritual support to her so they want to see her,” Lim added.

Ley was a vocal critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.

“We’ve tried our utmost to help Kem Ley’s family because he was our Cambodian hero,” Lim said. “We know that we have a responsibility to help ease her [Rachana’s] burden and help the children. We are now successful.”

“I’m happy that a free country helps victims into their country and take care of them,” said Yap Kimtung, president of the Washington-based Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy.

Kimtung said many other rights activists in Cambodia are under pressure to stop their activism, but they should not lose hope and would continue to fight for democracy.