Hong Kong Politics & Protest

‘This is Thailand, the same as China’: Joshua Wong recounts experience of detention in Bangkok

Joshua Wong, secretary general of the pro-democracy Demosistō party, has said that a representative of the Thai police force told him that “this is Thailand, the same as China. This is not Hong Kong,” when he asked about the reason for his detention in Bangkok.

Wong was speaking about his ordeal at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport during a press conference at the Legislative Council on Wednesday night. He was joined by fellow party members Nathan Law and Agnes Chow.

nathan law joshua wong

Nathan Law and Joshua Wong (left to right). Photo: Apple Daily screencap.

“After I heard this, I asked them continuously – is what you’re doing against human rights?…  said Wong. “[A]fter which they used a very intimidating voice to say ‘Here, we can treat you very well, or purposely make things difficult for you, you know to what extent we can do this – so which do you want?”

The activist, who was among the leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests, said that more than 20 police and customs officials had been waiting for him before he even got to passport control. Thai authorities requested that he hand over his passport as he was told that he had already been blacklisted and that it was “impossible” for him to enter Thailand.

In May last year, Wong was denied entry to Malaysia, but only when he reached the immigration point.

No communication or lawyer

Wong said that he was then detained alone for 12 hours in a closed room. He said that he would only be told the reasons for his detention after his release, and his requests to contact a lawyer or his family were denied.

Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong. Photo: Apple Daily screencap.

“In my experience of detainment, there was a lot of pressure, because I was detained alone in a closed room of about 50 sq ft. I did not know the time, and I could not contact people outside, and I did not know night or day,” he said. “I did not know if I would be unable to return to Hong Kong the next day, or whether I had to wait one day, two days, one week, one month, or an indefinite amount of time.”

Wong said that it was fortunate this did not become “a copycat of the Causeway Bay Books [incident]” and said he believed that the protests and attention in Hong Kong pressured Thai authorities to send him back to the city. Last year, Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai was allegedly abducted from Thailand and detained in China.

“I am very disappointed in the Thai government,” he said, adding that he is still in contact with the Thai universities to discuss whether he will speak through Skype. Wong was due to speak about democracy at Chulalongkorn University.

‘Inappropriate influence’

Lawmaker-elect Nathan Law, the party chairman, said that this was not an isolated case and that there were many Hongkongers who had been denied entry into Macau and China.

Nathan Law

Nathan Law. Photo: Apple Daily screencap.

He also said that an immigration officer had told Thai news outlet The Nation that the government was following a request from the Chinese government to blacklist Wong.

See also: Hong Kong ex-activist denied entry to Macau for ‘posing threats’ to internal security

“China is using its economic power and putting pressure on countries it has close ties with, requesting that they execute its blacklist… restricting Hongkongers’ freedom of movement. They are clearly destroying One Country Two Systems, damaging Hongkongers’ dignity,” Law said.

This kind of action “cannot stop the wave of democratic movements and this kind of oppression will not succeed,” he added.

“There are bigger and bigger threats to Hongkongers’ personal safety and freedom of movement, and the SAR government does not have the power to guarantee [such liberties],” said Law.

'This is Thailand, the same as China': Joshua Wong recounts experience of detention in Bangkok