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After Jailing, Mu Sochua ‘More Determined’

Mu Sochua, member of parliament-elect election from Cambodia's opposition National Rescue Party talks on VOA Khmer's Hello VOA radio call-in show in Phnom Penh, Wednesday, July 23, 2014, about her experience leading non-violent protests, one day after she was released from prison. (Lim Sothy/VOA Khmer)

Mu Sochua, the outspoken lawmaker of the opposition who just spent a week in jail, says she is going to continue pushing for democratic reforms in Cambodia.

“I’m not intimidated by arrest,” she told “Hello VOA” on Wednesday. “Instead, my will to defend the people and fight for democracy is even sharper and more determined.”

Mu Sochua has led a series of non-violent demonstrations outside Freedom Park in Phnom Penh since the government enacted a ban on public assembly in January.

One of those protests turned violent last week, when her supporters turned on city security guards who had again barred them entry into the park and, witnesses say, provoked demonstrators.

Mu Sochua and seven other members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party subsequently were arrested and charged with insurrection and incitement of violence, charges that remain, despite their release earlier this week.

Mu Sochua says the guards beat the protesters, too. “We never incite, never endorse violence,” she said Wednesday.

After their arrest, she said, the seven lawmakers and her assistant were held in handcuffs overnight, allowed to rest only on a chair. They were later charged with crimes that carry up to 30 years in prison.

Mu Sochua said her time in jail demonstrates many flaws in the system.

“If we don’t reform our judicial system, we won’t be able to solve this big national issue,” she said. “We cannot address this issue of impunity. Those who beat others will go free, and those who order the attack can still go free, and Cambodia then will plunge into bloodshed.”

She and the other prisoners were released late Tuesday, following a political deal between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy. Electoral reform and high-ranking seats in the National Assembly were also part of the agreement.

Some supporters have expressed frustration with the deal, but Mu Sochua says it will allow the opposition to protect people from the National Assembly.

“Give us time to do the work before you pass judgment,” she said.