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I attended the Wat Buddharangsi in my electorate on Sunday to commemorate the tragic death of Doctor Kem Ley. Dr Ley was assasinated in broad daylight in the streets of Phnom Penh just months after visiting Australia three years ago. He was an inspiring, truly brave political activist who I was lucky to meet when he was here in Melbourne and Canberra.
I am pictured here with his widow, Madame Bou Rachana, who fled with her five children and has thankfully been resettled in Australia under our refugee program, protected by this incredible group of Cambodian Australians.
I believe Dr Ley’s assassination was a turning point in the fight for human rights in Cambodia. Protesters have been killed, dissidents silenced and corruption is rife. The elections held in 2018 were not free and fair, with the opposition party being dissolved just before Election Day. People attempting to peacefully protest the third anniversary of Dr Kem Ley’s assassination were arrested in recent days.
Australia has a special friendship with Cambodia. Our history is intertwined and we can, should and must to do more ensure to human rights in Cambodia are protected. Staying silent is no longer an option.