A British human rights activist, who has a reputation for criticizing Beijing’s ever-tighter grip on neighboring Hong Kong, was barred from entering the HKSAR yesterday without any explanation, reported international media.
Benedict Rogers, the co-founder and deputy chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, was prevented from entering Hong Kong after he disembarked from a Thai Airways plane from Bangkok yesterday morning.
He told Britain’s The Guardian newspaper that Hong Kong immigration authorities provided no reason for barring his entry, but escorted him to take a return flight back to Bangkok.
“It is absolutely bizarre… I feel shocked,” he told The Guardian. “I had received a warning that this might happen so I was mentally prepared for it but was hoping it wouldn’t happen. “
Rogers, who lived for five years in the semi-autonomous city after its sovereignty was transferred from London to Beijing, said he had been warned through a third party that he might not be let in. He was due to meet with several friends to discuss ongoing political and civil rights matters.
“I was expecting him to arrive in Hong Kong today, but got word that he has been denied entry and put on a plane back to Bangkok,” where he transited, said Anson Chan, formerly the city’s top civil servant and now head of a pro-democracy think tank.
Earlier this year, Rogers helped organize a petition condemning prison sentences given to three prominent young student leaders for their role in sparking massive pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014.
“Maybe Beijing took a dislike to these activities,” Chan said. “We are all concerned, because once again it’s chipping away at Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”
“It makes a mockery of Hong Kong as an international hub,” he added.
As cited by The Guardian, Rogers also recalls an alleged conversation with the immigration officer tasked with escorting the human rights activist to his outbound plane.
“I said [to the officer], ‘Does this mean ‘one country, two systems’ is dead? Is it ‘one country, one system’ now?’ […] He looked at me actually very sadly, almost with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘I’m just doing my job, I can’t comment.’”
But Hong Kong’s immigration department disputed the account and said that the staff member did not hear his comment on ‘One country, two systems’.
“I feel it is yet another example of, if not the death, then the death throes of ‘One country, two systems’,” warned Rogers.