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Occupy Central

Thailand’s warning to Joshua Wong: video speech will be cut off if you criticise Beijing or reveal details of detention

Video call would be cut off if he talked about detention in Bangkok, incited Thai people or criticised Beijing, according to report in local paper

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 8:53am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 6:36pm

Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung was barred from talking about his 12-hour detention at the airport in Bangkok, inciting the Thai people or even criticising Beijing during a video conference with a Thai university on Thursday evening.

The student leader, who had been invited by a top Bangkok university to speak at a political forum, was deported from Thailand on Wednesday after being told he was on a blacklist. He ended up giving his speech via a 30-minute video call starting at about 7.30pm in Thailand.

Watch: Thai students protest deportation of Joshua Wong

In a front-page article on the Bangkok Post website, Wong was said to have been told by Thai officials that he could not share details of his detention or make negative comments about Beijing, or the video connection would be cut.

The article said Wong in the end “agreed” to talk only about his personal life and what political changes Hong Kong went through after the handover, as well as the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement in 2014, in which he played an integral part.

The forum, titled “October 6: Chula looks to the future”, was part of Chulalongkorn University’s commemoration of a deadly massacre of student protesters 40 years ago.

Thai immigration officials stopped Wong on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport late Tuesday evening before detaining him in a holding cell and putting him back on a flight to Hong Kong 12 hours later.

Prime Minister and junta leader Prayuth Chan-o-cha later confirmed Wong’s deportation was at the Chinese government’s request.

On a radio programme on Thursday, Wong demanded Hong Kong officials respond to the “blacklisting” of Hong Kong residents by foreign governments.

The Demosisto secretary-general said that while a country had every right to deny entry to anyone it wished, to do so on the grounds of a foreign blacklisting was “incomprehensible”.

Meanwhile, the Progressive Lawyers Group, formed by Hong Kong lawyers vocal about human rights issues, said the Thai authorities had contravened international law in the treatment of Wong, if the student’s allegations were accurate.

It is no defence to assert that they had the domestic legal authority to act in an arbitrary manner
statement by Progressive Lawyers Group

The group said Thailand, being a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, should not have detained Wong arbitrarily and without informing him of the reason.

“It is no defence to assert that they had the domestic legal authority to act in an arbitrary manner,” the group’s statement read.

The detention, which lasted more than 10 hours, during which multiple flights returning to Hong Kong were available, was also “not necessary or proportionate” as Wong was already told from the outset that he would not be allowed entry into the country, the group added.

The country also failed to protect Wong’s right to have unconditional access to lawyers and family members.

The group demanded the Thai authorities apologise to Wong and compensate him, and called on the Hong Kong and Chinese governments to lodge a formal protest with Thailand for his “unlawful detention”.

Macau denies entry to Hong Kong activists and filmmaker on same day Thailand deports Joshua Wong

Despite the Thai prime minister’s admission that Wong was deported on the request of the Chinese government, former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing maintained he could not see any evidence the central government had meddled in the incident.

“If the person involved seeks assistance from the SAR government, then I think relevant government departments should follow up,” he said.

Additional reporting by Owen Fung