PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: China: Hong Kong must protect freedom of expression during torch relay

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30 Apr 2008
(Hong Kong) Amnesty International today urged the Hong Kong authorities to ensure that activists in Hong Kong are able to engage in peaceful demonstrations before, during and after the Olympic torch relay on Friday 2 May.
According to information received by Amnesty International, several activists planning to participate in the demonstrations were denied entry to Hong Kong -- including a Danish artist and a number of Tibet campaigners. According to reports, the immigration authorities failed to provide any reasons for denying them entry. Failure to provide the rationale for such decisions heightens fears that they are being made arbitrarily.

On 26 April, Danish artist Jens Galschiot, who intended to take part in public activities around the torch relay, was denied entry to Hong Kong. Galschiot stated that the main purpose for his visit was to join with Hong Kong-based activists to paint in orange the ‘Pillar of Shame’ ? a sculpture he had previously built to commemorate the victims of crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement. He also said he planned to take part in an alternative ‘human rights torch rally’.

“The decision to deny Galschiot and other activists entry to Hong Kong has raised fears that the authorities may attempt to arbitrarily restrict peaceful protest more generally in Hong Kong during the torch relay,” said Madhu Malhotra, Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Hong Kong.

"The authorities have a right and duty to maintain public order for the relay, but this must not be used as an excuse to clamp down on acts of peaceful protest or otherwise restrict fundamental human rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly."

Note to EditorsAmnesty International Hong Kong will organise a public event on Friday 2 May to encourage people in Hong Kong to express their hopes and expectations for a positive legacy of the Olympic Games for human rights.

Amnesty International is running a global campaign to increase international awareness of ongoing human rights violations in China with a view to securing long-lasting reforms in the run-up to the Summer Olympic Games. The organization is not calling for a boycott of the Olympics, and remains hopeful that there is still time for the authorities to take action on a range of human rights concerns.

For further information and interviews, please contact:
Mark Allison, Amnesty International’s researcher on China
Phone: (+852) 2385 7187.
Milabel Cristobal Amar, Amnesty International Hong Kong
Phone: (+852) 2155 2370, Mobile: (+852) 63 45 06 99.
Clara Law, Amnesty International Hong Kong
Phone: (+852) 3107 8050.

30 April 2008

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