Protest group not allowed back to border

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 January, 2010, 12:00am

Police have banned a human rights group from visiting the Lo Wu border to inspect the scene of an incident last month in which mainland law enforcement officers allegedly dragged protesters and journalists into the mainland from Hong Kong territory.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government, in a paper submitted to the Legislative Council, said there was no evidence that mainland officers entered Hong Kong to take law enforcement action at Lo Wu on December 27.

It said the people who snatched protest materials were only 'some individuals who took photographs and helped protesters fix their placards'.

Four protesters and two journalists were dragged into the mainland and detained by police for three hours after the protest in support of jailed mainland dissident Liu Xiaobo .

Human Rights Monitor applied to police for a closed-area permit four days after the protest, saying it wanted to visit the site, at the Lo Wu bridge, to gather information for a special Legco security panel meeting today.

The group planned to take photographs and survey the border line at the bridge - demarcated by a grille in the middle of the structure - to compare it with photographs of the incident taken by the media that allegedly show plainclothes mainland officers crossing the border line and seizing protesters' placards.

Police rejected the application on Tuesday without providing a reason for the decision. The group has asked for this decision to be reviewed.

'The Hong Kong government regards our group as a reputable NGO in its papers submitted to the United Nations.

'However, it has excluded the group from doing proper observation in practice,' Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said.

Hong Kong law requires anyone who is not a cross-border passenger to apply for a closed-area permit before entering the border area. The Security Bureau is opposed to protests at border control points, partly because passenger flow at Lo Wu averages 230,000 a day.