Human Rights Watch Director Banned From Hong Kong

China says it was because group supported protests
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 13, 2020 12:21 AM CST
Human Rights Watch Chief Barred From Hong Kong
A black Hong Kong flag is waved by protesters during a rally in Hong Kong, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hong Kong authorities barred the head of Human Rights Watch from entering the territory Sunday, the advocacy group said. Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director, had planned to launch the organization's annual world report in Hong Kong this week. The report's focus is China's efforts to "deliberately undermine the international human rights system," Roth said. The move to bar Roth follows China's pledge last month to sanction organizations that it said "performed badly" in relation to anti-government protests that have roiled Hong Kong for more than seven months. Human Rights Watch, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Freedom House were among the groups cited for sanctions. Roth, a US citizen, tells the AP that immigration authorities at the airport told him he could not enter Hong Kong.

When he asked why, they told him repeatedly it was for "immigration reasons." He says he was held up for more than four hours and subjected to "an extremely thorough security check." He said his most recent visit to the city in April 2018 was "uneventful" and it is "a sad testament to the deterioration in basic freedoms in Hong Kong that I would be barred less than two years later." China said Monday it barred Roth from entering Hong Kong due to the group's support for the territory's ongoing protest movement. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Human Rights Watch had instigated "anti-China activists" to "engage in radical violent crimes, and incite separatist activities hyping Hong Kong independence."

(Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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