Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong deported from Thailand

Student leader was barred entry by Thai authorities at China’s request

Joshua Wong, the teenage Hong Kong student leader who helped organise the 79-day Occupy Central protests in 2014, was deported from Thailand on Wednesday after being barred entry to the country at China's request.

Mr Wong (19) was due to speak at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to mark the 40th anniversary of a Thai military massacre of 46 students in 1976, but was held by authorities at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

A co-founder of the Demosisto party, which calls for self-determination for Hong Kong, Mr Wong was subsequently deported after about 12 hours in Bangkok.

On arrival back in Hong Kong, Mr Wong said he was given no explanation for his deportation and simply told he had been “blacklisted”.


The Chinese government said in a statement it was aware of his arrest and respected Thailand’s ability to deal with entry and exit matters “in accordance with the law”.

Since a 2014 coup, Thailand's military junta has cracked down on dissent, arresting dozens of students and activists. There has also been a growing closeness with China, a major economic partner in the region, with strong trade links and also military ties – in July Thailand bought three submarines from China for €900 million and the two countries have staged joint military manoeuvres.

"We do not agree with this action by the Thai government who are infringing on basic rights and stopping its citizens from acquiring knowledge about democracy," Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, one of the student organisers of the event, told the Reuters news agency.

In an interview with Hong Kong's Sunday Morning Post, Mr Netiwit said he hoped Mr Wong could inspire young people to raise their voices in the military-led country in similar fashion to the Umbrella movement.

In May last year, Mr Wong was denied entry by Malaysia when he was due to give a series of talks on democracy.

Last month, Hong Kong government prosecutors failed in their bid to have jail sentences imposed on Mr Wong and his colleagues Nathan Law (23), who was elected to the Hong Kong legislature last month, a and student leader Alex Chow (25) for their role in the Occupy protests.

Hong Kong’s secretary for justice Rimsky Yuen, who has tried to jail Mr Wong for his role in the protests, was also due to visit Bangkok on Wednesday.

Hong Kong was guaranteed a high degree of autonomy when the former Crown colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, and the "Umbrella protests" by pro-democracy activists in 2014 provided one of the toughest tests for the Beijing government in decades.

Pro-Beijing chief executive CY Leung stood his ground in the face of the protests, and the Occupy movement fizzled out, but it has received fresh impetus of late with the election of young pro-democracy candidates to the Legislative Council and the rise of a movement calling for more autonomy for Hong Kong.

In an interview with The Irish Times last month, Mr Wong had said he was unsure if he would travel to Thailand this week, as he feared for his safety after the case of Gui Minhai, one of five missing Hong Kong booksellers who published gossipy books about the ruling Chinese Communist Party elite, was reportedly abducted by Chinese security forces while on holiday in Thailand.

In January, Chinese journalist Li Xin went missing en route from Thailand to Laos, while Thailand has also deported scores of ethnic Uighurs from restive Xinjiang province.

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan, an Irish Times contributor, spent 15 years reporting from Beijing