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An olive branch of hope

An olive branch of hope

Dear Editor,

I am writing to clarify  the meaning of "olive branch", a term used in the article "Mu Sochua offers olive branch to PM Hun Sen over lawsuits" (May 11).

On April 23, 2009, I took a very bold step to sue a man who is greatly feared by the people of Cambodia, and this symbolic legal pursuit has served as a message to the public that fear is only a mental block that will continue to paralyse us unless we look at it straight on and deal with it. The people of Cambodia are still traumatised by the legacy of the Khmer Rouge. It is because of this trauma that we are willing to live through injustices that control our daily lives and even the fate of a nation. If we continue to live in fear, then we will pass it on to our daughters and sons, and thus become part of the web of unchallenged power.

My lawyer presented all the evidence to the prosecutor when he was summoned. I am forever grateful to my lawyer, who is a very brave man, who believes in building justice for our people despite the fact that he is facing a lawsuit filed against him by the prime minister and a complaint by the lawyer of the prime minister with the Cambodian Bar Association for "defaming" the prime minister, but mainly because he dares to defend me.  My lawyer could be disbarred as every decision made in this country is controlled by one central system. The price my lawyer might have to pay is too great. The public as well as the international community, who have been part of this process through their statements and watching eyes, should continue to monitor with great vigilance.  

Last week I responded positively to an appeal by a war veteran who asked that both lawsuits be withdrawn and for both sides to put the interests of the nation first. I was so moved by his plea, I felt and heard the wisdom in his words. He made that appeal when I was on the Hello VOA  call-in program on Voice of America.

I suppose that my response is labelled as an "olive branch" and I feel honoured by this comparison, as in Western culture the olive branch is a symbol of peace or good will, or at least a sign of hope for peace in time of war, and it is handed over by one side of the parties in conflict to the other side. It is far different from defeat or fear. I can only hope that we Cambodians who have long been in conflict with one another will consider the "olive branch" as the lotus flower that we bring to the pagoda to pray for peace.

Although the fight is far from over, I remain hopeful that there shall be justice. I rest in peace now because I know that millions of women the world over fight the same fight and that our networks are more powerful than the power of leaders who control their people through fear.

Mu Sochua, MP

Sam Rainsy Party

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