A Change of Guard

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Friday, 29 July 2016

Activist twins given refugee status: NGO

Brothers Chum Huor and Chum Huot pose for a photo on a plane departing the Kingdom earlier this month. Photo supplied
Brothers Chum Hour and Chum Hout pose for a photo on a plane departing the Kingdom earlier this month. Photo supplied

Fri, 29 July 2016 ppp
Mech Dara and Shaun Turton

Two twin activists who fled Cambodia, claiming they feared for their safety, have been granted United Nations refugee status and have applied for asylum in the US, according to one of the brothers and an organisation supporting them.

Chum Hour and Chum Hout left for Thailand in the wake of the July 10 murder of political analyst Kem Ley, who the twins met shortly before his death.

Speaking yesterday, Hout said the pair had received refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on July 27 and, represented by two lawyers, had applied for asylum in the US and hoped to “leave soon”.

Hout said they had received advice to leave the country from a “big organisation” in the wake of Ley’s shooting, which many believe was politically motivated.

“We are comfortable and happy that IKARE and people in the USA have worked very hard to help,” Hout said of the organisation which is paying for the twin’s shelter and legal representation.

Reached by phone yesterday Kosel Sek, executive director of Minnesota-based IKARE, which works with genocide survivors and helps Cambodian students visit the US, said there was no fixed timeline for the asylum claim.

“The attorney has expressed his optimism that it will be days not weeks or months but it’s a process we’re not in control of,” Sek said, adding his group felt compelled to help the brothers reach safety and “tell their story”.

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