Taipei, Thirty-three Taiwanese visitors to Hong Kong, who had planned to participate in a rally against proposed amendments to the territory's extradition laws, were denied entry on Friday, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Saturday.
The 33 Taiwanese were members of the Falun Gong religious organization, which is perceived as a threat by the Chinese government, but Hong Kong's Immigration Department has declined to say whether they were barred from entry because they were Falun Gong practitioners.
According to a statement issued by MAC, the Taiwanese visitors were planning to join a protest rally on Sunday against proposed amendments to Hong Kong's extradition law, which was being organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, a Hong Kong pro-democracy group.
The pro-democracy group planned the rally after the Legislative Council of Hong Kong held the first discussion on April 17 on the amendments to the law, which is known formally as the law on Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
The amendments would allow extradition of crime suspects to mainland China and other countries, a development that Hong Kong rights groups fear will expose suspects to the risks of torture, other types of ill-treatment, and unfair trials.
MAC, which handles Taiwan's policies on China, said that when it learned of the problem encountered by the 33 Taiwanese visitors, it immediately contacted the airline on which they had traveled and also expressed concern to the Hong Kong government.
Taiwan and Hong Kong have always maintained close exchanges, MAC said, adding that it expects the Hong Kong government to show fair treatment of Taiwanese visitors holding valid travel documents.
Freedom of speech and religion are basic human rights, MAC said, calling on Hong Kong authorities to respect the rights of Taiwanese who want to express their opinions in a peaceful way in the territory.
According to MAC, Taiwan's representative office in Hong Kong did not receive any request for assistance from the 33 Taiwanese when they were denied entry Friday.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel