Three rights activists barred from Hong Kong

Society Materials 7 August 2008 12:51 (UTC +04:00)

Three human rights activists have been denied entry into Hong Kong just days before the start of the Olympic Games, a media report said Thursday.

The move, which has caused further concerns that freedom of expression is under threat, was the latest case involving rights activists being refused entry in the run-up to the Games, the South China Morning Post said.

Yang Jianli, an exiled pro-democracy activist who lives in the United States, was detained with fellow activist Zhou Jian by immigration officials after arriving at Hong Kong International Airport on Wednesday afternoon, dpa reported.

Another activist Wang Min was detained when he tried to enter the territory Wednesday.

Lawyer Albert Ho, who is also chairman of the Democratic Party, said Zhou was deported but it was unclear whether Yang and Wang had also left.

Legislator Leung Kwok-hung, who with Ho tried to intervene on the activists' behalf, said immigration officials tried to stop them providing legal advice to the activists.

"What the Hong Kong government has done is crazy. Where is the freedom of speech?" asked Leung.

Yang went into exile after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre when troops opened fire on students and workers during pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing. He was arrested when he returned to China in 2002 and sentenced to five years in jail before being released last year.

An immigration department spokesman refused to comment on individual cases but said: "Similar to other immigration authorities, the department has the power to refuse entry of non-residents if necessary."

The latest incidents come after several overseas protesters were denied entry to Hong Kong in May ahead of the Olympic torch relay.