Joshua Wong, the student activist that became the face of 2014’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, has reportedly been detained at Bangkok International Airport when he arrived in Thailand from Hong Kong.
The 19-year-old’s activist group, Demosisto, posted a statement on its Facebook page in the early hours of Wednesday morning, saying that Wong was being held by authorities. His local host, Netiwit Chotipatpaisal, claims that prior to Wong’s arrival, Thai officials had received a letter from the Chinese government.
Wong was invited by Chotipatpaisal to speak at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University this week to mark the 40th anniversary of a 1976 massacre where military forces gunned down student protesters at a college in Thailand.
Immigration officers in Bangkok told Reuters that Wong would be deported back to Hong Kong after his detention.
Demosisto said in its statement that it “condemns the Thai government for unreasonably limiting Wong’s freedom and right to entry.” It also requested for the Hong Kong authorities to assist in Wong’s safe return.
Demosisto’s Facebook post has also attracted comments from Thai people, many of whom have expressed disappointment with their government.
Chotipatpaisal’s claim that Chinese authorities sent word about Wong comes as the Communist mainland appears to be clamping down harder on Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech.
Hong Kongers commenting on Demosisto’s post noted that they were “unsurprised” that the Chinese government appeared to be restricting a pro-democracy figure such as Wong.
In July, Wong and several other members of Demosisto were found guilty of unlawful assembly for their role in the “Umbrella Movement” pro-democracy sit-ins in 2014, where thousands of protesters occupied central districts in Hong Kong and disrupted businesses for months.
Wong was later handed 80 hours of community service, avoiding jail time.
In January, the country was rocked by news of five Hong Kongers who went missing. They worked for a publisher which had been producing books critical of the Chinese government, and public speculation went wild that the five were captured and intimidated.
This machine-translated version is not perfect, but Yeung Yat Ming’s comment questions why Thailand is acting “subordinate” to Chinese powers.
Hong Kong was under British rule for 156 years until it was handed back to China in 1997. The country’s people, accustomed to broader rights and freedoms, continue to feel anxiety about China exercising its dominance over it.