House debates

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Statements by Members

Ley, Dr Kem

1:39 pm

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As this Sunday is the 25th anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords for Cambodia, I rise to record my sadness and disgust at the murder of Dr Kem Ley. On the morning of 10 July, 2016, Dr Ley was shot once in the head and twice in the chest at a local cafe in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He was a prominent Cambodian political commentator known throughout Cambodia and the world for his staunch criticism of corruption and his defence of human rights in Cambodia.

Before his murder, Dr Ley had actually visited Australia just two weeks before. As he was on his way to the airport to return to Cambodia, I shared a coffee with him at a park in Noble Park. I was struck by not only his intellect but his humble and gentle nature. His murder has caused great distress amongst the Cambodian people. There was a march of one million people in Phnom Penh. The Cambodian-Australian community in my electorate have been in mourning. They completed the 100th day of grieving last Sunday.

In this context, as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Cambodian peace accords, I call on our government to do more to put pressure on the Cambodian government to improve its record on human rights. Australia's former foreign minister Gareth Evans said that Dr Ley's death had 'all the hallmarks of a political assassination'. I hope that the suspicions of the Cambodian community that the government's voice is restrained by its outrageous refugee deal with Cambodia are not true.