Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua, who is on a mission to the US, appealed to Cambodians here to provide stronger support to the struggle for freedom and human rights in their home country.
“Compatriots in the US, please continue your work by meeting with your congressmen and senators in all states,” Mu Sochua told a group of some 60 participants gathered Thursday in Arlington, Va., a suburb of the capital.
“We now go to the hot battlefield [in Cambodia], and back here the battlefield is also hot, but please go on,” she said, following her testimony at a congressional hearing on human rights the same day.
The Virginia gathering was part of an effort to update Cambodian-Americans about the human rights situation in Cambodia, which has deteriorated in recent months following apparent government attacks on its critics.
“I, as a Cambodian American, will make an appeal to and work with different organizations, associations and Cambodian community that I know,” Kuch Chanly, a participant from Maryland, told VOA Khmer after the gathering. “I have been traveling throughout the US, France, Australia, Canada and Germany, so I will follow and protect any Cambodian hero who dares stand up to protect democracy in Cambodia, so that they have support for the work.”
Mu Sochua was stripped off her parliament immunity in a defamation case brought against her by Prime Minister Hun Sen and was ultimately fined more than $4,000 by the courts.
She joined other rights advocates from Cambodia in a rare hearing by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington Thursday.
“I represent a community that has the second-largest Cambodian population in this country, the city of Lowell, Mass.,” Niki Tsongas, a Democrat from Massachusetts, told the congressional hearing. “What happens in Cambodia is very, very important to so many of my constituents, because they remain quite concerned for their loved ones that have remained there.”
Mu Sochua is due next to meet with the Cambodian communities in Long Beach and Stockton, Calif.