Hong Kong ejects rights activists ahead of torch relay

April 27th, 2008 - 3:39 pm ICT by admin  

Hong Kong, April 27 (DPA) The Hong Kong government was criticized Sunday after it sent home three foreign rights activists who flew to the city to demonstrate at the Olympic torch relay on May 2. Heavily armed police escorted the three onto a London-bound plane Saturday evening after they were interrogated for hours following their arrival in the former British colony.

One of the three was Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot who designed a “Pillar of Shame” memorial in Hong Kong to the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing.

Hong Kong’s decision to eject the three was attacked by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Development Movement in China which accused the government of trying to “please Beijing.”

“Galschiot is just an artist, there’s no reason to refuse him entry,” Madsen said. “He had come to Hong Kong for a peaceful protest only and had no intention to disrupt the torch,” a travelling companion of the three, TV cameraman Niels Madsen, , said in an interview with the Sunday Morning Post newspaper.

Hours before the three were detained and ejected on Saturday, Hong Kong Security Secretary Ambrose Lee announced that pro-Tibet protestors would be barred from entering Hong Kong.

Refusing entry to overseas protestors could be controversial. Previously, Falun Gong members who were refused entry to the former British colony successfully challenged the order at courts.

People in Hong Kong have freedoms to demonstrate that are denied to citizens elsewhere in China because of the terms of its return to Chinese rule in 1997.

However, officials said that displaying the Tibetan flag may be interpreted as an offence during the torch relay, and people planning protests have complained of police harassment.

One 21-year-old university student who advertised a protest on her Facebook website page complained she was telephoned daily by police and asked to report to a police station.

Several protest groups plan to highlight the unrest in Tibet during the Hong Kong torch relay although surveys suggest a large majority of the city’s population opposes anti-China protests.

The city’s Beijing-appointed Chief Executive Donald Tsang is expected to be the first of 120 torch-bearers to run in the 33-kilometre relay, which will be marshalled by 3,000 police.

Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty 11 years ago under a “one country, two systems” arrangement guaranteeing political freedoms and the right to protest.

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