Prominent independent social researcher and political commentator Kem Ley was shot and killed in Phnom Penh on Sunday, July 10th.
“Let me share my condolences for the dead. I condemn this brutal act,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a Facebook post later that day. He also called on authorities “to take strong action in the case and try to control and strengthen security in order to protect the safety of people across the country.”
In a Facebook post Sam Rainsy, the President of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, strongly condemned the killing. “Mr. Kem Ley was a dignified son of Cambodia who actively participated in the fight for democracy and justice for the Khmer people,” he wrote.
“I never thought that I was going to live long,” Mr. Ley reportedly said. “One day, I might die or be shot to death. But as long as I live, I will say what the others dare not to. No one can buy me or make me not speak out.”
“We are deeply saddened and concerned by reports of the tragic killing of prominent Cambodian political commentator Dr. Kem Ley,” said John Kirby, Assistant Secretary and State Department Spokesperson, in statement released July 11th. “We offer our sincere and profound condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
The United States, he said, is “following developments in this case closely, noting the Cambodian government’s call for an investigation, and urge that authorities ensure this process be thorough and impartial.”