The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Bangkok is considering a resettlement application for popular singer Touch Srey Nich, who was gunned down by unknown attackers on Oct 2, 2003, said UNHCR Protection Officer Stephanie Hecquet-Letoutre.
“I’m not aware if she has the visa to the United States,” Hecquet-Letoutre said. “I know the case…but this kind of information is confidential. It needs to come from the family,” she added.
The US-based San Jose Cambodian Buddhist Society said in an e-mail earlier this month that the singer “has been granted a visa to come to the US with refugee status.”
The e-mail said the group has created a fund to help pay for her medical costs in Thailand and travel expenses. Touch Srey Nich has been paralyzed from the neck down since the attack during which her mother was killed. She has remained in Bangkok for treatment since shortly after the shooting.
Former minister of women’s affairs Mu Sochua said by telephone Thursday that Touch Srey Nich would be safer and better cared for in the US.
“Because of the severity of her condition, I really think she needs proper care—very progressive care in speech therapy and body movement,” Mu Sochua said.
“Going to a third country is also important for her security. If she returns to Cambodia and the perpetrators have not been arrested, there’s no way the family and herself can be secure,” she said.
Two weeks after the shooting, Mu Sochua went with a UN representative to inform the singer about her rights and to answer any questions the family had about seeking asylum.
“We went as a kind of assessment of the situation,” she said.
According to witnesses, when the gunman began firing, the singer’s mother jumped from the vehicle and ran toward her daughter.
Having shot Touch Srey Nich twice in the face, the gunman fired his a round into the star’s neck, before raising his weapon and shooting her mother once, killing her.