Monthly Archives: July 2010

Celebrating Human Rights with Global Exchange

On May 27, 2010, Global Exchange announced Mu Sochua as the 2010 People’s Choice Honoree. Read more on the Human Rights Award for Mu Sochua here.

The following is from 

“We are proud to honor Van Jones, Domestic Honoree, Raúl del Águila International Honoree, and to Announce Mu Sochua as the 2010 People’s Choice Honoree.

Since 2001, the Human Rights Awards Gala has brought together activists, supporters, and friends to recognize the efforts of exceptional individuals and organizations from around the country and around the world.

Join us May 27, 2010, as we honor the work of Environmental Justice Pioneer Van Jones (Domestic Honoree) and Fair Trade Trailblazer Raúl del Águila (International Honoree). Global Exchange is ALSO proud to announce Mu Sochua as our People’s Choice AWARD Honoree. Thank you to all those who participated in our People’s Choice Award contest. 

To view all our 2010 nominees, click here.

Global Exchange Human Rights Awards Honorees are some of the most prominent groups and activists in their fields.”

Mu Sochua sets up a foundation to help women

27 July 2010. By Ly Meng Huor, Radio France Internationale

On Tuesday, SRP MP Mu Sochua, who lost the defamation lawsuit to Hun Xen, announced that she is setting up a women foundation for justice. This foundation will help young Cambodian women to become lawyers to defend victimized women in Cambodia.

The Cambodian Women’s Movement that supports Mrs. Mu Sochua handed the 4 million riels (~$1,000) fund, as well as more than 4,000 thumbprints to her. This fund is a portion of the 13.6 million riels raised by the Cambodian Women’s Movement from factory workers, sex workers, beer promotion workers, vendors, farmers, students, union leaders, teachers and NGO workers during a campaign that started at the beginning of July.

The fund was raised to help Mrs. Mu Sochua pay for her fine in the defamation lawsuit initiated by Hun Xen.

However, when she received the 3.81 million riels fund package from representatives of the Cambodian Women’s Movement this morning, Mrs. Mu Sochua indicated with tears in her eyes that it will be used to set up a women foundation for justice, and it will be used to help pay the law education of women so that they can be involved with the legal field and provide service to all women who are victimized by injustice.

Mrs. Mu Sochua added that the fund raised by the Cambodian Women’s Movement and handed to her represents the sweat and blood of innocent Cambodians. She will not use this fund to pay the fine and the compensation as the court ordered her in the defamation lawsuit case initiated by Hun Xen.

In the defamation lawsuit brought up by Hun Xen, the court decided that Mrs. Mu Sochua must pay a fine and a compensation totaling 16.5 million riels (~$4,000). At the end, the court decided to impound her salary instead.

Regarding this fund raised by the Cambodian Women’s Movement and the setup of a women foundation by Mrs. Mu Sochua, Tith Sothea, the flatulent windpipe of the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PQRU), said that this is a campaign set up to serve the personal interest of Mrs. Mu Sochua and it cannot extend to cover all Cambodian women in the entire country.

Read the full article on KI-Media Blogspot here.

For this article in Khmer, click here. Translated from Khmer by Socheata

Women Call for Third World Rights

On May 6, 2009, A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, posted an article titled “Women Call for Third World Rights,” where he pressed the importance of rights for women in politics in developing nations. He focused primarily on Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma and Mu Sochua.

May 6, 2009 
A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D
Read the full article here

“Sochua, one of 1,000 women proposed for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, told Katrin Redfern of The Independent Media Center in New York City that she seeks the Obama administration’s support for democracy and human rights in Cambodia, “a democracy on paper but in reality a dictatorship.”

When asked if she was hopeful about improvement, she said, “No, not until there is a change of regime. That can only happen when we have a real election that is free and fair. The West should insist on that, otherwise all the aid they have poured into Cambodia will not work.”

But she knows no dictator trades a free and fair election to keep him from power, and many countries put their interests above other people’s rights and freedom.

Her stubborn belief in the power of ideas and actions prevents her from being complacent.

On April 24, The Cambodia Daily’s front page article, “Mu Sochua To Sue Premier For Defamation,” reports Hun Sen’s nationally broadcast speech that he wouldn’t help villagers who side with the opposition; he told about a woman “cheung klang,” or “strong legs,” a derogatory term, in the 2008 election campaign who had “hugged” someone, and complained her “blouse” had been unbuttoned by force.

The Daily states that last June, an army officer “twisted her am, thus making her blouse buttons come undone,” so Sochua filed an “assault complaint.”

At an April 23 news conference, she announced her lawsuit against Sen for defamation, for 500 riels, or 13 cents, and a retraction of his statement.

In a country where “disappearances” and “accidents” are routine, Sochua’s action makes her either foolhardy or the symbol of renowned Khmer Pundit Krom Ngoy’s advice, “Kom chloah noeung srey” or “Don’t fight with women.”

But Sen chooses to fight with Sochua: The April 27 Daily’s front page read, “Prime Minister To Countersue Mu Sochua.”

Sen controls all branches of government, but Sochua says she’s not scared.

Born in 1954 to an affluent family, Sochua attended a French school. As Cambodia was engulfed in the Vietnam War in 1972, she and her sister were sent away to Paris and never saw her parents again — her father died of starvation under Pol Pot, her mother’s fate was unknown.

A refugee who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, she earned a bachelor’s in psychology at San Francisco State University, and a master’s in social work at the University of California, Berkeley. Canada’s Guelph University bestowed upon her an honorary doctorate in law.

In 1981, Sochua left the United States to work in refugee camps along the Khmer-Thai border where she met her husband. In 1989 she returned to Phnom Penh and devoted her all to advancing women’s rights.

She was elected a lawmaker in 1998 on a royalist ticket, served as minister of women’s and veteran affairs in 1998-2004, left the royalist party after a political falling out, and became secretary general of Cambodia’s largest opposition party.

Clinton’s resounding words at the Vital Voices’ Global Leadership Awards shine on Sochua and others in their struggle.

But words are even more awesome when backed by actions.”

Read the full article here.

Human Rights of Parliamentarians

Statement from IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians made at the press conference held last week at the closure of its 130th session. Download the pdf: Mu Sochua-press conference

Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians

“I would like to start our briefing this morning by expressing our Committee’s very deep dismay at the situation facing Ms. Mu Sochua, a woman member of the Cambodian parliament.

A little over a year ago, the Prime Minister of Cambodia made a public, offensive and derogatory statement with sexual innuendos about Mu Sochua as a woman. Any woman anywhere in the world would have been deeply offended. Mu Sochua was and she announced her intention to sue the Prime Minister for defamation. Immediately afterwards, she was herself sued by the Prime Minister on the basis that publicly announcing her intention to sue him was in his view defamatory.

Instead of dealing with a serious case of offensive language against a woman, the court dismissed Mu Sochua’s case against the Prime Minister. Her immunity was then lifted by parliament, and in August last year the court found her guilty of defaming the Prime Minister. The court awarded damages to the Prime Minister and imposed a fine on Mu Sochua. Her conviction was subsequently upheld by the Appeal Court in October 2009 and by the Supreme Court last month.

If Mu Sochua does not pay her fine by tomorrow – and she says she will not – she faces imprisonment. This would also compromise her ability to run in the next parliamentary elections.

The conviction of Mu Sochua involves a clear violation of her most fundamental right to freedom of expression. She has a legal right to express her view that she was defamed and that she intends to seek a legal remedy.

In the case against Mu Sochua, no evidence proving either damage to the reputation of the Prime Minister or malicious intent was ever presented. Instead, the courts relied on correspondence between Mu Sochua, on the one hand, and the IPU and the Global Fund for Women, on the other, to imply bad faith.

The IPU is appalled at this state of affairs. For the last thirty years, parliaments everywhere have cooperated with the IPU and its Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians. This committee was set up for the sole purpose of defending the human rights of members of parliament, many of whom, like Mu Sochua, are members of the opposition.

In this particular instance, that mechanism has been used by a court to violate the human rights of a member of parliament. This is appalling. Under no circumstances can we accept that a communication to the IPU or any other international or inter- governmental organization should be seen as a reprehensible act and be used as evidence in court proceedings. On the contrary, it is part of the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

This case represents a complete travesty of justice. We call on the competent authorities of Cambodia to prevent further injustice and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that Mu Sochua is not imprisoned.”

Geneva, 15 July 2010

Mu Sochua Faces Docked Wages After Court Loss

Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Thursday, 22 July 2010

Mu Sochua, the opposition lawmaker who lost a defamation court battle with Prime Minister Hun Sen, will have her National Assembly salary docked to pay nearly $2,000 in compensation.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered the National Assembly to take approximately 4.2 million riel, or $1,000, from her paycheck for two months.

“Mu Sochua must not obstruct or arrange for the prevention of officials in charge of preparing salaries at the [National Assembly] finance department from clearing the would-be confiscated debt,” the court said in a July 20 decision obtained by VOA Khmer.

The money will go to Hun Sen, who countersued Mu Sochua last year following her own claims he had defamed her with derogatory remarks in public speeches.

The case brought international attention to the Cambodian judicial system, which local and international rights groups say is typically politically biased toward the ruling party or subject to bribery and corruption. International donors routinely call for increased judicial reform.

Mu Sochua called the court decision “a kind of coercion” and “a political tool.”

“The judges cannot use their consciences to deliver justice to me as a parliamentarian,” she said.

Mu Sochua, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian representing Kampot province, had repeatedly said she would not pay the fine, but the order comes after she lost her final appeal to the Supreme Court in June.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, said members would stand by the lawmaker.

“This is an act of injustice,” he said. “It is not her salary that Mu Sochua stands to defend, but to show the national public and international community that the court only acts in favor of the Cambodian People’s Party.”

The court order does not specify when the deductions will take place, and National Assembly officials were not immediately available for comment.

The article can also be found here.