Lowell-resident Tooch Van, a Cambodian-American and Community Activist, wrote this poem to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Kem Ley.
Born in 1970 and educated at universities in Thailand and Malaysia, Dr. Ley became a political activist and vocal critic of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen. On July 10, 2016, Dr. Ley was shot and killed while drinking coffee at a gas station in Phnom Penh.
The BBC reported on Dr. Ley’s death, and the New York Times followed with a story of the trial of the man who shot him, a trial that, according to the Times, raised more questions than answers. The Wikipedia page for Dr. Ley calls his killing an assassination.
Here is Tooch Van’s poem:
Poem for Dr. Kem Ley
By Tooch Van
Considered one of the founding fathers;
who tirelessly fought for the democratic building process in Cambodia,
searching for the truth by criticizing the flaws of the Phnom Penh Government;
this is the moral and social responsibility of Dr. Kem Ley!
Dr Kem sheds the lights of a truth of democratic building process and its implementation;
this light of Dr. Kem Leyism should continue in every Cambodian, Cambodian-American’s heart and minds that, we must pick up the torch from him for Cambodia and her poor country and continue his journey where he has started.
And I quote his word, “Wipe out your tears, continue your journey,” Dr. Kem Ley.
Millions of Cambodians in Cambodia and abroad expressed sorrow deeply for Kem Ley’s homicide, through the songs, the prints, many forms of expressions such as participation in holding funeral ceremonies, building his statue as well as contribution to Dr. Kem Keyism and his family.
Comparing to Dr. Kem Ley of Cambodia to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr of United States;
Dr Kem is for good governance and people, quality of life, justice for all Cambodians;
Dr. King is for civil rights and integration of black movement into the mainstream in the 1960s as a responsibility of everybody who lives on this earth.
Dr. Kem is a people-centered leader, almost everybody in Cambodia – even vegetable sellers and moto bike’s Taxi and Turk Turk enjoy listening to his analysis and talks.
Dr. King is a charismatic leader who inspires millions of Americans of all colors and all walks of life to believe in themselves, to have self-esteem and self-confidence, to craft their lives in a challenging world—look at the United States now!
Dr Kem is a symbol of the democratic building process in Cambodia,
who is in hoping his journey he began will be continued by others,
Dr. King is a symbol of civil right movements, who believes that the movement is matter to all Americans.
The journey of these two doctors has just begun. Please help pick up the torch and continue their journeys, so we may live in a world that has true freedom and justice for all.