PM Hun Sen’s United Nations appearance draws Cambodian diaspora protest — Radio Free Asia

About 300 members of the Cambodian diaspora in the United States gathered at United Nations headquarters in New York on Friday, demanding that the Phnom Penh government release political prisoners and implement democratic reforms as Prime Minister Hun Sen was scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly.

Demonstrators displayed images of detained activists from the now-disbanded Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), whose leader Sam Rainsy has been in exile in France, and called on Hun Sen, the country’s long-ruling strongman, to relinquish his grip on power.

“Please respect human rights, release political activists to their freedom, and have free and fair elections where all parties can participate,” Sam Vathana of Long Beach, California, told RFA when asked what his message was to Hun Sen .

Chun Sothy, a CNRP activist who recently received asylum in the United States, traveled from North Carolina to join the protest in New York, told RFA that he was persecuted in Cambodia and fled to Thailand for three years before coming to USA

“I want Hun Sen to return our positions that he stole from us. I am a former city councilor. He stole 5,007 seats,” Chun Sothy said. “He stole wills from more than 3 million people. If Hun Sen loves peace, why did he rob the will of the people?”

Chun Sothy was referring to Cambodia’s recent municipal elections, which opposition activists and civil society groups said were marred by pressure campaigns from Hun Sen’s allies.

“I want to tell the world that Hun Sen is not a leader who was elected. He stole power and we live under a dictatorial and corrupt regime,” Chun Sothy said.

The prime minister, who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades, did not plan any meetings with Cambodians now living in the United States while traveling to the United States, saying he was too busy. But some of his supporters greeted him at his hotel in New York.

Members of the Cambodian diaspora protest against Prime Minister Hun Sen's authoritarian rule as the longtime strongman is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 23, 2022.
Members of the Cambodian diaspora protest against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s authoritarian rule as the longtime strongman is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 23, 2022.

The protest was organized by the Cambodia-Myanmar Group in opposition to “Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) decades-long tyrannical rule in the country,” the group said.

It called on Cambodia to “overturn all wrongful convictions and detentions”, including the recent conviction of Cambodian American human rights lawyer Seng Theary for conspiracy to commit treason, part of a mass trial widely seen as part of a wider crackdown by critics of Hun Sen. .

Since coming to power in 1985, Hun Sen has consistently targeted opponents of his rule and placed CPP officials in positions of authority throughout the country. Parties challenging his rule often face investigations, arrests and other forms of harassment by CPP officials and their supporters.

Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Nawar Nemeh.

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