Thousands mourn Cambodian commentator during funeral

Well-known political analyst Kem Ley shot dead while drinking his morning coffee at convenience store in capital

Thousands mourn Cambodian commentator during funeral

World Bulletin / News Desk

A crowd of thousands of mourners marched Sunday in a massive funeral procession for a Cambodian political analyst who was shot while drinking his morning coffee at a convenience store two weeks ago

The analyst, Kem Ley, was a well-known and popular figure among Cambodians for his frequent appearances on Khmer-language radio and his recent establishment of a grassroots political mobilization network, Khmer for Khmer, which sought to encourage farmers and villagers to band together and get active in politics.

The opposition party has branded his killing a state-sponsored political assassination, while the government has vehemently denied the claim and vowed that the murder would be investigated thoroughly.

Although precise figures were not available for the turnout of the funeral procession -- which marched from Phnom Penh to Takeo province around 88 kilometers to the south -- pictures showed what appeared to be tens of thousands of people arrayed in a convoy that stretched 5 kilometers, according to local rights group Licadho.

At some points along the road, sympathetic bystanders offered mourners free drinks, schoolchildren and construction workers paid tribute by holding up portraits of Kem Ley, and onlookers waved Cambodian and Buddhist flags, according to live updates provided by Licadho.

“Throughout the morning, participants have been expressing a variety of emotions, with some openly weeping, others smiling and celebrating Kem Ley’s wife, and still others showing anger and defiance,” Licadho wrote.

The huge turnout appeared to reflect the depth of public anger and grief over the murder of the commentator. It also appeared to be the largest political mobilization since post-election protests in 2013 that shook the country’s political order.

The government had forbidden marchers from joining the procession, limiting traffic to only motor vehicles, and had told mourners that they could not engage in open expression of political sentiments.

Nonetheless, hundreds of people joined the parade on motorbikes and in the three-wheeled rickshaws known here as tuk-tuks, with many drivers emblazoning their vehicles with pictures of Kem Ley or draping them in funeral flowers.

Despite fears that violence or protests could break out, the procession appeared to have made it peacefully to Takeo province’s Tram Kak district late Sunday, where Kem Ley was due to be cremated in a pagoda in his hometown.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Temmuz 2016, 16:48