Yvonne Leung, a student leader in Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement and former president of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union (HKUSU), was barred from entering Macau on Wednesday.
The Macau Public Security Police Force, which is responsible for immigration services in the city, justified the decision with the fact that there were strong signs showing that Leung would practice activities that could harm Macau’s public order.
In addition to serving as HKUSU president in 2014, the 25-year-old Leung was one of the student leaders during the Occupy Central movement. The HKUSU Campus TV issued a statement on its Facebook page announcing the incident.
Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Claudio Mo told Agence France-Presse that Macau’s refusal to admit Leung was sending “a chilling message that you have to pay your price for being disobedient, being a government critic”.
“On the one hand, we respect that Macau has all the right to deny anybody from entering the territory,” Alvin Yeung, the leader of Hong Kong’s Civic Party told public broadcaster TDM. “But on the other hand, we expect something more concrete and more reasonable than merely a one-line reason saying that the person being denied entry will harm the security of Macau. It’s totally groundless.”
“I wonder how on earth the Macau government obtained a list [of pro-democracy activists],” he said, alluding to assistance from the HKSAR. “She was an activist and an iconic person during the movement back in 2014. Since the end of the movement, Yvonne returned to the university as a student and after that she simply joined society like any other person. It’s ridiculous and we just don’t understand why. Even assuming that she is still an activist in civil society, does that mean she could bring harm or threat to Macau?” he added. “You cannot punish someone for voicing out her views.”
It is not the first case of Macau immigration officers barring Hong Kong-based journalists and pro-democracy activists from entering the SAR.
Last year, several writers dropped out of the Macau Literary Festival after authorities allegedly instructed event organizers that they would likely not be permitted to enter.
In the aftermath of Typhoon Hato and during the 2017 Legislative Assembly election, Macau authorities prevented 15 journalists from entering the SAR, as well as a number of lawmakers and activists. According to immigration authorities, these individuals constituted a threat to the city’s stability and security.
Macau’s Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak has on previous occasions said that the decision to deny the of certain Hong Kong residents bears no relation to their profession. He has also denied the existence of a ‘black list’ and said that such decisions are “normal practice” for every country worldwide.
Authorities in Macau did not reply to AFP requests for comment.