Cambodia Targets Opposition MP

MuSochua Mu Sochua is a Nobel peace prize nominee for her work on sex trafficking and senior MP in the main opposition party Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). She is also one of the subjects of the documentary play Seven Women. She recently filed a law suit against Prime Minister Hun Sen for comments made in a national radio broadcast during he referred to her as a 'cheung chat', a cross between hustler and a prostitute. She was suing for an apology and a symbolic sum equivalent to 15 Australian cents. In response, the Prime Minister Hun Sen's Justice Minister has charged her with gravely defaming the PM, which carries a prison term. (Here is the Australia Broadcasting Company story on the whole affair, and here is the story in The Daily Beast).

An email from Mu Sochua:

Between 1975-79 over 1 million Cambodian women, men and children, were killed by the Khmer Rouges, among them my parents. The world community knew about it but watched from afar. Cambodia has come out of genocide and on the road to reconstruction but this stage of reconstruction is stuck and in many ways fast falling back to point zero.30 years after the genocide of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has made some progress but too small. Over 2,000 innocent Cambodian women die every year of childbirth, at least one million Cambodian children go to bed hungry every night, hundreds of thousands Cambodian children and female youth are ruined in brothels, over 200,000 families have been brutally forced of their land and homes, and over 75% of Cámbodia's forests have now been destroyed. Innocent lives of my people could be saved if justice were served, if top leaders of my broken nation were less greedy, if development were meant for all.

I left Cambodia as an innocent young adoles cent because the Vietnam war was approaching and hundreds and thousands of sick, wounded and hungry families were already telling us that Cambodia was lost. I returned home 18 years later with two young children, to a nation in ruins. A new beginning gave us hope when the UN came to help Cambodia organize its first democratic election in 1993. It cost the world community 2 billion dollars. I became a leader in the women's movement, moving communities and walking the peace walk in city streets and dirt roads to pray for non-violence. I joined politics and became the first woman to lead the women's ministry that was lead by a man, campaigned nationwide to put an end to human trafficking, authored the draft law on domestic violence, signed treaties wit neighboring countries to protect our women and children from being prosecuted as illegal migrants but to receive proper treatment as victims of sex slavery.

I witness violence not as a victim but asI listen to hundreds an d thousands of women and children speak of the shame, the violation, the soul that is taken away when violence is afflicted on their bodies and on their minds. As a politician I always try to take action, to walk to the villages where life seems to have stopped for centuries, I challenge the top leadership of the government, I question international aid.

Today, I am faced with the real possibility of going to jail because as self-defense I dare sue the prime minister of Cambodia, a man who has ruled this nation for 30 years. Having been assaulted to the point where I stood half exposed in front of men, by a general I caught using state car to campaign for the party of the prime minister, I found myself assaulted again , this time verbally by the prime minister who compares me to a woman hustler who grabbed men for attention.

Within days my parliamentary immunity will be lifted so the court can “investigate” my case. This is normal proecdure for polticians from the opposition party or human rights activists or the poor who can not bribe court officlials. I will be detained in the notorious prison of “Prey Sar” for as long as the courts wish to take.

Many of my colleagues in the opposition, including my party leader have faced this fate for speaking out.

Cambodia receives close to a billion dollars in 2009 from the internatinal community, the USA contributin close to 60 million. Is the world still watching in silence while Cambodia is now ruled by one man? Is the world afraid to say that its aid is actually taking Cambodia backwards?

Let no Cambodian children go to bed hungry no more. Let no Cambodian women be sold no more.

We must walk tall but not a people bent because trauma of the Khmer Rouge is still a part of us. Let us not let our leaders and the world community use this trauma to give us justice by the tea spoon.

Let there be real justice.

Mu Sochua, Elected Member of Parliament

Sam Rainsy Party

Also from Mu Sochua:

Dear friends,

Please see the latest development by listening to Australia ABC radio.

Just even more recent as it is happening right now.

Following my announcement to file a law suit against the PM, the government is also filing a law suit against me for gravely defaming the PM.

The Ministry of Justice will then, by next week, request the president of the parliament to vote to lift my parliamentary immunity. My party that has only 25% of the votes will not be able to help me.

The next step:

The court will issue an arrest warrant (within hours)

The next step:

I will be arrested in order for the court to “ïnvestigate” the case.

Since Cambodia does not have a separate detention for people who are under police arrest,I will join the rest of the prisoners in the notorious prison of Prey Sar.

The same scenario to all political targets of the PM. My friend who was MP spent one full year in the military prison, sharing it with one of the top Khmer ROuge killers-Ta MOk.

My party leader had his immunity lifted twice and both times he went into exile in France, as he is a French citizen.

My option:

I will fight till the end and will not seek asylum in the USA.

Likely, I will go to jail.

Be it, for justice. Be it for all women who have suffered so gravely in shame and in silence.