By Christine Khamis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia
Joshua Wong, an 18-year-old democracy activist from Hong Kong, was barred from entering Malaysia on Tuesday. Mr. Wong was scheduled to speak at forums overseen by Malaysian youth activist groups, including the Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement. The forums commemorate the 26th anniversary of the crackdown on Tiananmen Square protestors in Beijing in June 1989.
Mr. Wong is the leader of Scholarism, a student activist organization in Hong Kong. In the scheduled forums, Mr. Wong was going to speak about the democratic movement in China. Specifically, he was going to speak about his experiences as one of the leaders of the Umbrella Movement, a student-led protest in Hong King last year during which tens of thousands of activists gathered and demanded free elections of leaders. Chinese officials ultimately used force to break up the gathering and refused to give in to the protestors’ demands.
Mr. Wong was sent back to Hong Kong on Tuesday and stated that he was told by Malaysian immigration officers that a government order banned his entry into the country. A Hong-Kong immigration department spokesman said that the Hong Kong government had no control over the entry of its residents to other countries.
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Malaysian minister of home affairs, said he did not know that Mr. Wong was denied from entering Malaysia and that he would speak with the director-general of immigration about the issue, according to Malaysiakini, a Malaysian news website.
In a statement made by Mustafa Ibrahim, director-general of the Malaysian Immigration Department, it was stated that Mr. Wong was on the list of people barred from entering Malaysia. The statement did not give a reason as to why Mr. Wong was on the list.
Organizers of the forums at which Mr. Wong was scheduled to speak have demanded an answer to why he was barred from entering Malaysia. Critics are calling the denial of Mr. Wong’s entry an act of political censorship by the Malaysian government.
Eric Paulson, co-founder of the Malaysian civil rights organization Lawyers for Liberty, has stated that the Malaysian government was attempting to contain the influence that Mr. Wong may have had on Malaysian youth. Youth in Malaysia are discontent with widespread corruption and increases in the cost of living and have participated in street protests this year.
The Malaysian Working Group on the 26th Anniversary of June 4 said that the forums commemorating the 26th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown will still be held. Mr. Wong stated that he intended to try to address those attending the forums in Malaysia through videoconference.
For more information, please see:
BBC – Hong Kong Activist Joshua Wong Refused Entry to Malaysia – 26 May 2015
The New York Times – Malaysia Denies Entry to Joshua Wong, Hong Kong Democracy Activist – 26 May 2015
Voice of America – Hong Kong Democracy Activist Denied Entry to Malaysia – 26 May 2015
The Wall Street Journal – Hong Kong Student Activist Joshua Wong Barred From Malaysia – 26 May 2015