image

Hong Kong Basic Law

British lawmakers to quiz Theresa May’s government over human rights campaigner being barred from Hong Kong

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, who chairs party’s human rights commission, to raise issue in parliament next week

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 10:13pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 10:24pm

British lawmakers are planning to put questions to Prime Minister Theresa May’s government in parliament next week over why Hong Kong authorities denied a UK human rights campaigner entry to the city.

Conservative Party MP Fiona Bruce, who chairs the party’s human rights commission, told the Post she would raise the issue in the legislature on Tuesday.

Benedict Rogers, the vice-chair of the commission, was put on a plane to Thailand on Wednesday and then onwards to Britain after being refused entry by Hong Kong immigration authorities, sparking a row between Beijing and London.

David Alton, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, the upper chamber of parliament, was also planning to pose a question, Rogers said.

British human rights activist refused entry to Hong Kong

“I have been in touch with members of parliament, where there are plans to raise the issue at Foreign Office Questions on Tuesday,” he said.

“Definitely there is concern around Westminster and a lot of people are asking a lot of questions.”

Back in Hong Kong, it was understood a number of meetings between Britain’s representative in the city, Andrew Heyn, and Hong Kong officials had been planned in the wake of the incident.

Heyn and Rogers worked closely together on issues to do with Myanmar when the diplomat was the ambassador to the country.

The British consulate in Hong Kong did not comment when asked by the Post how it could ensure Britons in future would not be refused entry in similar circumstances.

On Friday Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that anyone, including the city’s last British colonial governor Chris Patten – a vocal critic of Hong Kong’s human rights record – could be refused.

Anyone – including last governor Chris Patten – could be barred from Hong Kong, Carrie Lam says

Rogers condemned those comments.

“Chris Patten is vastly more influential and outspoken, and of significance,” Rogers said. “But he is also infinitely more important as a major public figure ... If she is actually contemplating the possibility, to say something like that about the former governor is astonishing ... and is very serious.

“There is no legitimate reason to deny me or Patten. Neither of us are criminals, neither of us are going to do anything to be a threat to security. We are both law abiding, respectable people who would be coming in a purely peaceful and constructive way.”

Beijing runs Hong Kong’s foreign affairs, says Carrie Lam, after British politician barred from city

Joyce Chow, a spokeswoman for the British consulate, on Friday reiterated a statement by British foreign secretary Boris Johnson issued immediately after the Rogers refusal.

But she declined to comment on whether meetings had been scheduled between Heyn and the Hong Kong government.

“We do not comment on the consul general’s programme and private connections,” Chow said.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said it would not comment on individual cases, but a spokesman said: “The bureau meets with people from various sectors from time to time to exchange views on matters of interest.”

British activist barred from Hong Kong to start NGO monitoring city

Meanwhile, Rogers was pressing ahead with plans to monitor the city’s progress on human rights, democracy and freedoms by establishing a dedicated NGO. But he said that plan had been in place prior to his difficulties in Hong Kong, and that the group would be funded by private donors.