Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth said Sunday he had been denied entry into Hong Kong, where he had arrived to launch the watchdog’s annual report after months of civil unrest in the city.
Hong Kong has been battered by nearly seven months of occasionally violent protests, its biggest political crisis in decades. Millions have turned out on the streets of the semi-autonomous financial hub to demand greater democratic freedoms.
Roth was to give a press conference on Wednesday to unveil his organization’s latest global survey, which accuses China of prosecuting “an intensive attack” on international human rights agencies.
“I had hoped to spotlight Beijing’s deepening assault on international efforts to uphold human rights,” Roth said. “The refusal to let me enter Hong Kong vividly illustrates the problem.”
The long-time executive director of the New York-based rights group said he was turned back by authorities at the city’s airport.
“Even though I’ve been able to freely enter Hong Kong before, this time, for the first time, they blocked me,” he said in a video posted to Twitter.
China last month announced sanctions on American NGOs, including HRW, in retaliation for the passage of a US bill backing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
“These non-governmental organizations support anti-China” forces and “incite separatist activities for Hong Kong independence,” China’s foreign affairs ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said at the time.
Hua also accused HRW and other groups of having a “great responsibility for the chaotic situation in Hong Kong.”
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.