Dozens of Cambodian-American Long Beach residents protested in front of a restaurant over the weekend against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son, Hun Manet, on the first day of his trip to North America.
Observers said that the protest has the hallmark of the opposition to discredit the Royal Government.
In a video clip posted and shared online yesterday, dozens of Cambodian-Americans protested in front of Preah Chan restaurant on Saturday, where Mr. Manet went to greet his supporters. Protesters called on him to return to Cambodia and put a stop to the government’s violation of human rights in the Kingdom.
Navan Chek, one of the protesters at the restaurant, said the presence of Mr. Manet, who decided not to participate in the town’s Khmer New Year parade out of fears of inciting violence, was ruining the mood of the holiday.
“(He) does not need to come and to reunite Cambodians in the US. We have the rights and enough understanding of what happens in Cambodia. He should try to reunite Cambodia as a country.
“Cambodian people are losing land and homes and there are many problems to be solved back in Cambodia. It’s nearly election time and I think he is here to seek support, but this is a misunderstanding because he has no supporters here,” he said.
Mr. Manet posted on his Facebook page yesterday, saying: “At the end of the day, the spirit of unity wins.
Despite the threat from about 100 plus protesters, we had over 400 people turn up to join our New Year dinner together in Long Beach, California in order to celebrate our unity together.”
He said the purpose of his visit was to provide information to Cambodian people living in the US about Cambodia’s current state, highlight issues such as border and land disputes, immigration issues and to learn about as well as share the concerns of people living in the US.
Mr. Manet said in an interview with an American media outlet that people could believe what they wanted.
“I am not forcing them to believe in the information I provided. It’s just a part of the thinking since it’s a national matter,” he said.
Mr. Manet added that Cambodian-Americans have the right to protest against him and he hoped that protesters would not go beyond the framework of their rights.
“I am not upset by that, though many of them have threatened to even kill me,” he said.
President of the Cambodia-America Alliance Touch Vibol said Mr. Manet would face similar protests in other Cambodian-American communities across the US, such as in Lowell and Fall River, Massachusetts, Tacoma, Washington and Dallas, Texas.
“General Hun Manet is on a charm offensive and Cambodian-Americans are not buying it. My message to Manet is to look at the bad things happening in Cambodia,” he said.
Mr. Manet is planning to tour many of these communities throughout the New Year celebrations, before flying to Canada on April 17 to greet Canadian-Cambodians.
Hun Manet spoke at an event in Long Beach, California, yesterday. Supplied