Letter to the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD)
I left Cambodia as an innocent young adolescent 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 with 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 I listen to hundreds and 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 to 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 a 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 procedure for politicians from the opposition party or human rights activists or the poor who cannot bribe court officials. 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 international community, the USA contributing 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 anymore. Let no Cambodian woman be sold anymore.
We must walk tall despite being people bent from the trauma of the Khmer Rouge, which 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 teaspoon.
Let there be real justice.
Member of Parliament
Sam Rainsy Party
Mu Sochua is an elected member of the Cambodian parliament and a tireless advocate for women’s rights and the victims of injustice. In 2005, Mu Sochua was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work against sex trafficking of women in Cambodia and neighboring Thailand. Vital Voices honored Mu Sochua with the 2005 Human Rights Global Leadership Award for her efforts to stem the tide of human trafficking.