Hong Kong democracy campaigner Joshua Wong was stopped from entering junta-run Thailand, where he was due at events commemorating a massacre of student activists, an official said yesterday, as supporters blamed China for his detention.
The bespectacled Wong, 19, famed for his galvanising role in the city’s 2014 pro-democracy “umbrella movement”, was held upon arrival at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday.
A report from Thai security officials said Wong was sent back to Hong Kong.
Speculation immediately swirled that Thailand’s military Government was acting under pressure from regional superpower China – a key ally which has lavished investment and diplomatic support on a junta lacking international friends following its 2014 coup.
Thai student activist Netiwit Chotipatpaisal said police told him of a “written letter from the Chinese Government to the Thai Government concerning this person”.
Thai junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said he was unaware of any such formal request from Beijing, while an airport immigration official confirmed there had been an “order” to detain Wong but declined to say who issued it.
Wong has been a thorn in Beijing’s side since emerging as an unlikely leader of protests against Chinese political domination of the city.
In a statement Demosisto, a political party he founded this year, said it “strongly condemns the Thai Government for unreasonably limiting Wong’s freedom and right to entry”.
“We are deeply worried about Wong’s personal safety and freedom, and we remain uncertain as to under what circumstances Wong has been detained,” it added.
Nathan Law, 23, who last month became Hong Kong’s youngest lawmaker when he won a seat for Demosisto, told AFP he was concerned his friend could be sent to mainland China.
That fate befell a Hong Kong book seller critical of Beijing who was detained in Thailand last year while on holiday.