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Hong Kong kicks out activists ahead of torch relay

April 28, 2008

Bangkok Post, Thailand
April 27, 2008

Hong Kong (dpa) - The Hong Kong government was criticised Sunday after
sending home three foreign human 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."

A travelling companion of the three, TV cameraman Niels Madsen, who was
allowed into Hong Kong, said in an interview with the Sunday Morning
Post newspaper.

"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."

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 mounted successful court challenges.

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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