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Complaint about refusal to enter Hong Kong
To whom it may concern
On Friday 25th April we left Denmark heading for Hong Kong, where we had planned to visit friends, enjoy ourselves and not least paint a sculpture at the Hong Kong University Orange in cooperation with students from the university and people from the Democratic Alliance of Hong Kong. But as we arrived in Hong Kong the day after we were interrogated by the immigration authorities and send back to Denmark on the first available flight and with no apparent reason.
We cannot see the reason why we are refused entrance to Hong Kong. Our main purpose was to help our Hong Kong friends paint a sculpture, in memory of the Tiananmen Massacre, to put focus on the continuous violations of the Human Rights in China, a focus that is especially important as China promised to improve human rights if they got to host the Olympic Games 2008.
We understand that the Hong Kong Government is afraid that the Olympic torch rally will end in chaos and riot-like manners like it happened in Europe. However the Color Orange is a peaceful and non-violent concept and we have been in Hong Kong two times earlier to make art and exhibitions, and at both these trips we have been acting non-violent and followed the restrictions of the Hong Kong authorities. We have had no intention of preventing the OG torch on the rally in Hong Kong or even boycotting the OG. Our plan is to join the alternative torch rally of the "Human Rights torch" of the Hong Kong Alliance.
We have travelled 20,000 km and spend 60,000 Hong Kong Dollars, not to mention hundreds of hours of work and preparation to go and participate in a peaceful and all through legal event. We are therefore stunned and amazed to be treated like criminals when arriving in Hong Kong where we were detained for 6 hours after which we were escorted to, and forced to take a plane to Denmark by armed police and staff of the airport.
Even though we asked continuously, we never got a reason for the refusal and the only answer we could get was that we were refused for “immigration reasons”. At this moment we still do not know the reason of being denied entrance. The immigration staff told us that the head of airport division Mr. L. Y. Chang was responsible for the order, but that we could not talk to him. We were allowed to talk to our lawyer Mr. Albert Ho and he came to advice us, but was refused entrance to the airport, even though we asked the immigration personnel to let him enter.
From Hong Kong journalists we have been informed that the Hong Kong immigration is claiming that we were not allowed to enter Hong Kong because we did not sign certain papers. This is not true. We were not asked to sign any papers until about 7 pm, when the immigration officials told us that we were denied access to Hong Kong. The paper we were asked to sign was a “Refusal Notice” that we refused to sign, as we did not want to confirm that we were expelled. We said that we would sign the document as soon as our lawyer arrived, which he was not allowed to. Of other documents that we later refused to sign without the presence of a lawyer were two documents about our rights while detained at the airport. We were not presented with any other documents. If we could have signed a paper that let us enter Hong Kong we would of course have done that without questions!
We are frustrated about this unusual hard treatment and ask how and for what reasons we were denied entrance. We do not understand how the Hong Kong authorities can send us back and we find several parts of the case to be undemocratic and violating our rights:
- We were not told any concrete reasons for the denial to enter. If we do not know what we did wrong how can we change to be allowed to enter.
- They would not tell us if this was a permanent denial to enter Hong Kong and as we have no visa requirements, coming from Denmark, how can we know. By trying our luck and spending 60,000 HK Dollars yet again?
- We were not allowed to see a lawyer.
- Two persons from the group were members of the press and had the adequate international and official press cards to prove this. Do you not have press freedom in Hong Kong?
We see it as a shameful act from the Hong Kong government to treat us this way and are as mentioned confused, not to know why we were denied. Is it for wearing an orange bag or to legally paint a sculpture to question human rights and freedom of speech in China? If this is illegal in Hong Kong, maybe this IS in fact a good place to start fighting for human rights.
When China took over Hong Kong in 1997 they promised that it would be “one country two systems”. However it seems that this is no longer the case as Hong Kong refuses entrance to a peaceful sculptor and his helpers that just wanted to paint a sculpture orange.
The manners of the immigration officials were peaceful and our time in Hong Kong went without violence of any kind. However when asking us to leave for the plane, about 15 policemen with normal police guns had entered the room and were watching us. All in all some 40 people were in the room and it was in the air that we would be forced out to the plane if we did not go voluntarily. As we are non-violent we didn’t wish this to happen and left for the plane peacefully, but with an escort of about 10 officials and police from the immigration office.
We expect answers on the above questions.
Jens Galschiøt, Lasse Markus, Kasper Markus.
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