terça-feira, 17 de março de 2009

Ainda as repercussões de domingo passado

Diplomats voice fears over Macau entry row

Ambrose Leung
South China Morning Post
March 17, 2009

The row over Macau's denials of entry to Hongkongers has escalated to the international level, with foreign consulates expressing their concerns to the former enclave's government.

A day after five pan-democrats were barred while their colleagues were allowed in, the Civic Party has started a "one person, one e-mail" campaign to the Macau Immigration Department demanding the scrapping of what they called a blacklist.

Maria Castillo-Fernandez, head of the European Commission's Office in Hong Kong, said it had been following the cases and "expressed concerns" to the Macau government during a meeting last month.

Those concerns include whether the denial of entry for Hongkongers, as well as the passing of the Article 23 national security bill, would have any impact on future visits by European politicians who might be outspoken against China.

The British consulate also said it had raised concerns with the Macau government.

"Together with our EU partners, we have been following these exclusions in recent months closely," a consulate spokesman said.

"We raised the issue in a meeting with the Macau government on a separate subject last week."

A source in the pan-democratic camp said one western country's consulate had offered assistance after raising concerns about the issue several days ahead of a trip on Sunday which saw five activists, including legislators Leung Kwok-hung and Lee Cheuk-yan, denied entry. The rest of the 33-strong group were allowed in.

Mr Lee is to appeal to the International Trade Unions Confederation, which is expected to raise the matter with the International Labour Organisation, regarding disruptions in the normal exchange between unions in the two cities.

It is not the first time foreign governments have exerted pressure over the tightening of border controls in Hong Kong and Macau. During the Olympics torch relay in April last year, a diplomatic storm erupted after at least eight foreign nationals, including Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot and activists campaigning for Tibetan independence, were denied entry to Hong Kong.

But legislator Chan Kam-lam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said foreign governments should not interfere in the affairs of Hong Kong and Macau.

"How many people does the United States turn away every day? Macau is not the business of foreigners," Mr Chan said.

A Hong Kong government source believed the situation was improving, as the number of pan-democrats who were denied entry to Macau was smaller than expected during the trip on Sunday.

A Macau security police spokesman had earlier cited an internal security law and said Macau had a right to deny entry to anyone who violated the law.

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