BATTAMBANG, CAMBODIA – Cambodian opposition party Member of Parliament Mu Sochua commenced her campaign in Battambang in the run-up to the commune elections to be held early next month.
The campaign convoy started near Psar Nath, one of Battambang’s main markets, and wound its way through the streets. Mu Sochua stopped a few times at other streetside markets to give speeches and meet with local people before moving to a temple several kilometres from town for a refreshment break.
Supporters wearing white t-shirts and caps printed with the Sam Rainsy Party logo took part in the convoy, riding motor scooters, cars and trucks through the outskirts of Battambang to the temple in Ek Phnom district
After the break, the convoy resumed its trip through the province.
In 1972, when Mu Sochua was 18 years old, she was sent to live in Paris by her mother. The war in Vietnam was spilling over the border into Cambodia, causing many people to flee the country.
Two years after leaving her homeland, Sochua moved to San Francisco to pursue an education at the Berkeley campus of the University of California as well as San Francisco State University.
The Cambodian capital Phnom Penh fell to the control of the Khmer Rouge the following year, 1975.
When the Vietnamese removed the Khmer Rouge from power in early 1979, Cambodian refugees poured out of the region, with many settling in the United States. While studying in California Sochua was doing work with refugees from all over the world, and says that she spent many days at San Francisco Airport in the hope that one day she would she her family step off the plane.
That wish was never granted. Sochua never saw her family again.
After finishing her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a masters in Social Work, Sochua returned to Cambodia in 1990 to assist in the rebuilding of her country, a task she describes as “paying (her) dues”.
Mu Sochua was a member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party until January of 2004 when she left to join the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. While in the Cambodian People’s Party, Mu Sochua was Minister for Womens’ Affairs, a post she held from 1998 until her resignation from the government party.
During that time, she fought extensively for women’s rights in rural Cambodia and battled human trafficking. She is a renowned advocate for human rights, and this is the platform upon which her political campaign is built.