After the Phnom Penh authorities rejected a request to have a statue of the late political commentator Kem Ley erected in the capital’s iconic Freedom Park, on Sunday his supporters brought the sculpture to his hometown in Takeo province.
An Theary, 34, who took part in the march, said she wanted to see an annual commemoration, because Ley had “sacrificed a lot” for Cambodia.
Ley was gunned down on July 10 in central Phnom Penh in a killing widely believed to have been a targeted assassination. An official probe into the killing has yet to announce its findings, while one suspect remains in custody.
Yang Saing Koma, one of the founders of the Grassroots Democracy Party (GDP) that Ley helped organize, said the event would be coordinated by his supporters, adding that a “study center” would also be built in Ley’s hometown.
Ley was an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s regime and an occasional critic of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party. Prior to his killing he had appeared on several radio programs speaking about high-level corruption in the government.
Sao Kosal, a member of a committee that organized his funeral, said if a request was made to hold an annual ceremony, the group would pitch in. “We haven’t discussed it yet,” he said.
Ou Chanrath, an opposition lawmaker who filed to request to have the statue placed in Freedom Park, said he would continue to advocate for a statue to be moved to the iconic square. “If circumstances change and a chance came, we would bring another statue of Kem Ley to Freedom Park.”
Since the shooting, Ley’s wife, Bou Rachana, and his children have gone into self-exile, fearing repercussions.