Cambodian-Americans from across the country rallied at a New York hotel this week where Prime Minister Hun Sen is staying ahead of a speech at the United Nations.
The securities at the UN granted the Hun Sen supporters permission to rally at the hotel when Hun Sen arrived in New York this week.
Pich Sarun, one of the supporters from Tacoma, Washington State, said Hun Sen’s attendance at the United Nations was the “pride of Khmer people.”
“It is clear that countries across the world have recognized that the Royal Government of Cambodia is an independent and sovereign nation,” he said.
Other attendees at the rally agreed.
Duong Dara, who is also a government official, said Cambodians enjoyed “equal freedoms, status, and roles as equivalent countries like the United States.”
Cambodia has come under fire in recent months for holding an election after banning the country’s main opposition party, jailing its leaders, and a widespread crackdown on civil society and independent media outlets.
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party won all 125 seats in parliament in a general election in July.
Sunny Sam, a rally-goer from New Jersey, said: "If there was no [Hun Sen] to help build our country, I think our country would not be as advanced as today."
Prom Ben Phall, from Vancouver, Canada, said he hoped to raise some issues in need of reform while meeting the prime minister.
“I want Cambodia to be stable,” he said. "We voted for the new government, and there will be changes in order, to get rid of corruption, and the proper courts and a proper rule of law."
The United States imposed visa restrictions and is considering other limited sanctions against Hun Sen’s government in response to the alleged rights abuses and anti-democratic measures taken by the government.
Hun Sen last appeared at the United Nations in 2015 after receiving an invitation from President Barack Obama.