World Bulletin / News Desk
Kem Ley was shot dead July 10 as he bought a morning coffee at a bus service station in the center of Phnom Penh.
His wife, Bou Rachana, was nearly six months pregnant at the time of his murder and was a central figure at his funeral, which was observed by hundreds of thousands of people.
Rachana is now in a “safe place”, But Buntenh, a Buddhist monk who leads the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. He said her departure Sunday was necessary for health reasons.
“We are not ready to share why she left the country. We can only say that she is not well due to her pregnancy, and she was suffering,” he said. “We wished her to get to a safe place, that’s why we assisted her to stay in a comfortable place.”
It is unclear if Rachana and her sons will ever return to Cambodia. Buntenh said she “might not”.
The Phnom Penh Post reported Wednesday that Rachana might seek asylum in a third country, possibly the United States.
Cham Bunthet, a member of Ley’s Grassroots Democracy Party, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that he understood why Rachana was concerned for her and her children’s safety.
“She was concerned about her security and her children’s security,” he said. “In Khmer, we have a saying that ‘if we clear the grass, we clear the root of the grass’, so when they attacked Mr. Kem Ley, there were fears that his children were the roots. That was the concern she had.”
Last week, an image of Rachana with a recently commissioned statue of her late husband was shared on Facebook.
The Cambodia Daily reported a few days later that military figures opposed its being placed in Freedom Park, a designated protest site in the capital.
Although a man was arrested in the immediate wake of the murder as he fled on foot, concerns have been raised that he was a hired hitman and that the real motive of the killing was to silence Ley