The wife and children of slain political analyst Kem Ley have been granted asylum in Australia, according to her brother Bou Channy.
Channy yesterday said Bou Rachana, whose husband was murdered almost exactly a year ago, and her five young boys were recently granted political asylum but are waiting on visas to Australia. The development was confirmed by an Australian source close to the case.
The news comes before a weekend of memorials dedicated to Ley, a revered and outspoken analyst and government critic. On July 10 last year, Ley was shot dead in broad daylight as he sat drinking coffee at a gas station in Phnom Penh.
The shooter, Oeut Ang, was sentenced to life in prison, but observers, and opposition figure Sam Rainsy, have said Ang was a fall guy in a politically motivated assassination.
In August last year, Rachana, then pregnant with her and Ley’s fifth child, fled to Bangkok and sought asylum in a third country.
Victorian MP Hong Lim, who will take part in Melbourne’s memorial for Ley, said he initially hoped Rachana would have been able to arrive in Australia in April for Khmer New Year. She was interviewed in February about her asylum claim and had undertaken the required medical exams, Lim said.
“We are hoping she can come eventually,” he said. “Our concern is for the boys. They are young, and they are missing out on education. We do not want them to be stranded too long.”
He added the memorials across the world would send a strong political message.
“The message we want to send, especially to the Hun Sen regime, is that we are not going to let go of this criminal act against Kem Ley.”
Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda