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Human rights agencies flare over activist Wong detention, deportation to ‘appease’ China

BANGKOK: The 12-hour detention of well-known Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong at Suvarnabhumi airport has sparked heavy criticism from local and international human rights activists over Thailand’s excessive accommodation of Beijing’s demands.

politics, military, immigration,

Bangkok Post

Thursday 6 October 2016, 09:46AM

Hong Kong democracy campaigner Joshua Wong speaks during a press conference upon his arrival at the international airport in Hong Kong on October 5, 2016, after being deported from Thailand. Photo: AFP

Mr Wong, secretary-general of the Demosisto political party, was detained on arrival Tuesday (Oct 4), two days ahead of his scheduled speech marking the 40th anniversary of the Oct 6, 1976, massacre set to take place at Chulalongkorn University.

Foreign media quoted Thai officials as saying they acted on a request from Beijing in the latest sign of what rights groups said was China pressuring neighbours to quash dissent.

The New Democracy Movement said in a statement that Thai authorities claimed the detention came after a written request from Beijing, adding the incident was “a deprivation of the right to travel and freedom of expression, and a serious and unreasonable intimidation of an individual”.

New York-based Human Rights Watch’s China director Sophie Richardson said it was “quite shocking” to see military-ruled Thailand “bend over backwards to appease China's rights abusing agenda”.

“The detention and deportation of Joshua Wong are yet another indicator that Thailand’s military government will use any available means to stifle political discourse in the country,” said Champa Patel, London-based Amnesty International’s senior research adviser for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Chulalongkorn University political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak said Mr Wong’s detention and expulsion would do more harm than good to the image of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

“The Thai government has kowtowed to China to its own detriment in the past. When the military government deported Uighurs to China at Beijing’s request, it eventually boomeranged and Thailand suffered terrorist violence in August 2015 as a result,” he said.

“This time, the repercussions will not be violent but will cost the junta credibility problems, as this case has attracted the international spotlight. With a better communications team, the government could have used this opportunity to show that political space in Thailand is more open, especially after the recent charter referendum. Making a fuss and deporting Joshua Wong is counterproductive. The publicity from his remarks in Thailand would be less than the publicity from his deportation.”

Mr Wong was freed and sent back to Hong Kong around noon Thursday (Oct 5).

The Immigration Bureau said Mr Wong was prohibited for entering and staying in Thailand based on the 1979 Immigration Act’s Article 12(7).

According to the article, Mr Wong was considered as behaving in a way that could be dangerous to the public or likely to be a nuisance or constitute a threat of violence to the peace, safety or security of the public or to the security of the nation, or being sought under an arrest warrant by competent officials of foreign governments.

Mr Wong was one of the high-profile student leaders behind pro-democracy protests two years ago that marked the former British colony’s most turbulent period since China regained control in 1997. In August, a Hong Kong court sentenced him to community service for his role in the protests, which brought parts of the city to a standstill for months.

C and C Marine

Mr Wong told reporters that he was held in a windowless holding cell at the airport. He said he was not given a clear explanation for his detention and was not allowed to contact his family or a lawyer.

“I actually had a lot of discussions with a Thai official, but because he didn’t speak English very well, I couldn’t hear him very well. But there was one word I heard very clearly: blacklist,” he told reporters after arriving back in Hong Kong.

Mr Wong, who last year was prevented from entering Malaysia, said he was relieved he did not end up like five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared and later turned up in custody in mainland China. One of them, Chinese-born Gui Minhai, who is a naturalised Swedish citizen, vanished from his holiday home in Thailand.

“If I hadn’t returned to Hong Kong, I can’t imagine what kind of situation I’d be in,” Mr Wong said. “Fortunately, I did not become another missing person.”

The Thai government and NCPO defended its move.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said: “It was not a deportation. It was a stopover flight and Chinese authorities just took him away. It was China’s reason, so let China handle its own affairs.”

Gen Prayut also said that while he did not prevent the public from holding activities to mark the Oct 6 event, they should avoid causing public disturbances. “History serves to remind us to avoid repeating [similar mistakes].”

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd reaffirmed Thailand’s respect for international law as well as the highest priority for national security issues.

“As the NCPO has the responsibility to maintain peace and to carefully consider such matters, Thailand does not wish to see an escalation of political conflict, even though causing political disputes remains an intention for some. The NCPO has always used discretion and carefully considered the legality of its actions to maintain political stability, based on international rules and regulations. In any case, there had been no instruction or order given, pertaining to Mr Wong,” he said.


Read original story here.



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Joe12 | 10 October 2016 - 21:11:55

Don't know what the fuss is all about. As the article points out, "The Immigration Bureau said Mr Wong was prohibited for entering and staying in Thailand based on the 1979 Immigration Act’s Article 12(7)." In other words he was a convicted criminal. These immigration laws are pretty much standard throughout the world and no doubt the reason he was denied entry into Malaysia. 

It is doubtful whether a request was made by China to deport Mr Wong. They could have stopped him from leaving. If anything it was merely a "red flag" similar to the Bali 9, where Australia informed Indonesia that drugs were being transported out of the country. Rather than wait to be apprehended in Australia the 9 were apprehended in Indonesia and subjected to Indonesian law and 2 were subsequently shot by firing squad. 

But then again we have PN voicing the over the top opinions of the bleeding heart Human Rights Activists saying "was China pressuring neighbours to quash dissent", backed up by a Thai acedemic Thitinan Pongsudhirak, who cannot think for himself, who merely reiterates narratives of western media that specifically lays the blame upon an obscure Turkish-based terror organization, where no such evidence exists.

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Kurt | 07 October 2016 - 19:48:25

What the Government Spokesman said made the whole affair even more to laugh about..
National security? This matter. Oh my God, what a drama queen explanation. 
Specially as mr Wong at the end was able to address to the Thai university and the whole world by internet connection!

The action of the thai government, oh, excuse me, I mean the Chinese government of course, made the whole thing worse for Thailand.

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Christy Sweet | 07 October 2016 - 15:20:17

Since when is China ruling Thailand?  Since about the last coup d'tat. Increasingly, it is apparent that one needs to really not care about human rights issues in order to maintain a level of contentedness while residing here. I just cannot ignore it.

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BettyWong | 07 October 2016 - 15:17:50

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd reaffirmed Thailand’s respect for international law as well as the highest priority for national security issues.


How enlightening .....

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Kurt | 06 October 2016 - 20:46:48

The detaining of Mr Wong by 20 (!) thai police officers upon his arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport, + a 12 hours detention in a room without windows, not informed officially why he was detained, is a black day for Thailand's image, worldwide. 
Overreaction out of fear.
If Mr Wong was allowed to proceeded his speech at that Thai university it would have attract less attention world wide as his detention in Thailand did now.
And the thai official talking with Mr Wong hardly spoke english.

And it was China who 'handled' this affair?
Since when is China ruling Thailand?
.."It was China who took him away"..(??)
Never knew that China has jurisdiction over Suvarnabhumi airport.

A full day of thai loose face. 
Pity, Could have been handled in a different and better way.

Anyway, after all, mr Wong made his speech by video conference. 
So? Was al this panicking fuss needed?

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