* 7/22 News update: Mu Sochua and seven colleagues are now free on bail.
* 7/18 update: The Daily Hampshire Gazette covered President Lynn Pasquerella’s effort to win the release of Cambodian opposition leader Mu Sochua, and their article was reprinted in the Khmerization blog.
* 7/17 update: Jon Western, Carol Hoffmann Collins '63 Professor of International Studies at MHC, writes about Sochua's detention in The Duck of Minerva. Includes video.
His Excellency Mr. Hem Heng
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Royal Embassy of Cambodia
4530 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20011
Dear Ambassador Hem Heng:
As president of one of the foremost institutions for the higher education of women in the United States and as an advocate for democracy and social justice around the world, I write to protest the arrest and detention of Member of Parliament-elect Mu Sochua and three of her colleagues.
Mu Sochua recently visited our campus as part of a Women in Public Service Project Institute involving emerging women leaders from around the world and sponsored with Smith and Simmons Colleges. The Institute was dedicated to exploring issues associated with "Reconstructing Societies in the Wake of Conflict: Transitional Justice and Economic Development." Ms. Mu Sochua played an inspirational and deeply informative role as she discussed her tireless work on behalf of your nation.
In fact, as you may know, the dedicated work by Mu Sochua on providing basic services and opportunities for women and men, on preventing HIV/AIDs and domestic violence, and on opening the democratic process to all has received international recognition.
At Mount Holyoke, where nearly one-third of our students come from nations around the world, including a growing number from Southeast Asia, we are deeply conscious and supportive of the transformative role that women leaders must play in bringing about gains for their fellow citizens.
As Cambodia works to recover from the challenges of its recent past, I urge you and your government to use this instance as an opportunity to display the commitment to democracy that must and will form the foundation of your nation's progress.