Activists and netizens yesterday criticized the government for denying entry to German environmentalist Daniel Helmdach at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Friday afternoon, and deporting him later that night.
“[Helmdach] has never done anything illegal in Taiwan. I think he was denied entry because he took part in an anti-nuclear demonstration two years ago, and it so happens that the nationwide anti-nuclear demonstrations are taking place the day after his arrival,” said Green Formosa Front member Lin Chang-mau (林長茂), who was to pick up Helmdach from the airport on Friday.
“This is the only reason I can think of behind the National Immigration Agency’s (NIA) decision to deny his entry and deport him,” Lin added. “This is a joke.”
Helmdach arrived in Taiwan at about 4pm on Friday, but was denied entry and deported at 11pm that night.
Chao Jui-kuang (晁瑞光), a teacher at Tainan Community College and a personal friend of Helmdach, said he could not understand why the environmentalist was deported.
“Helmdach was here to visit friends in Taiwan. He didn’t come here to join the anti-nuclear demonstration. The government should apologize to him,” Chao said on his Facebook page.
“This is such a shame for Taiwan,” Chao added.
Chao said that when Helmdach was in Taiwan two years ago, he volunteered at Tainan Community College and helped translate information related to environmental protection into German and English.
As an anti-nuclear demonstration took place on April 30 that year, Helmdach went along to observe the event, “that’s probably why he was blacklisted,” Chao said.
Commenting on the case, immigration agency spokesman Hsu Chien-lin (徐健麟) told the Taipei Times via telephone that Helmdach was prohibited from entering the country for three years according to the conclusion of an immigration review meeting on Dec. 27, 2011.
“Helmdach left the country on July 25, 2011, and is prohibited from re-entry until Sept. 15, 2014,” Hsu said.
Asked if Helmdach was placed on the border control list for his participation in the anti-nuclear demonstration, Hsu said there is no problem with foreigners taking part in legally approved demonstrations.
“The problem is that he took part in two demonstrations, one was legal, one was illegal, thus he was in violation of the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法),” Hsu said.