Thu, May 08, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Hong Kong clamps down on Olympic ‘disruptors’

AFP AND AP , HONG KONG AND BEIJING

Hong Kong will not welcome any visitors who are looking to “damage the solemnity of the Olympics,” the government said in a report, raising fresh concerns it was clamping down on free speech.

“As a cohost city of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Hong Kong has the obligation to ensure that the relevant Olympic activities will proceed in a safe, peaceful and smooth manner,” the department said in a report to legislators released on Tuesday.

“The government does not welcome it if any person seeks to damage the solemnity of the Olympics or disrupt the smooth proceeding of the relevant Olympic activities in Hong Kong,” the report said.

Hong Kong will host the equestrian events.

“Immigration control and public order must be strengthened especially when major events are taking place in the region,” the report said.

At least 13 people — including known members of activist groups — were prevented from entering Hong Kong ahead of the torch relay’s journey through the territory last Friday. However, US actress and activist Mia Farrow was allowed in despite her vehement criticism of China’s backing of the Sudan government, accused of prolonged rights abuses.

Legislator Cheung Man-kwong (張文光), a pro-democracy activist, said failure to explain the entry bans had damaged Hong Kong’s reputation.

“The government’s silence is a shield to hide the fact that such measures have damaged the ‘one country, two systems’ [arrangement],” he said, according to a report in the South China Morning Post yesterday.

ANTHROPOLOGISTS

Meanwhile, a major academic conference in Kunming in July has been postponed amid a slew of official measures to avoid possible disruptions ahead of the Olympics.

Conference organizers yesterday refused to give a precise reason for the rescheduling of the world congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, scheduled for mid-July.

They said they hoped it could be held in late November or early December instead.

”We have postponed the July conference, but I am not at liberty to tell you the reason why,” said Zhang Jijiao, one of the event’s organizers and a sociology professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

Zhang said 6,354 people had registered to attend the congress.

Union secretary-general Peter Nas said a postponement would be a major disruption and that he was trying to persuade organizers to keep the original dates.

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