H.K. protest leaders stopped from flying to Beijing
HONG KONG – Three Hong Kong democracy protest leaders on Saturday, November 15, were turned back at the airport after being denied permission to board a flight to Beijing, where they hoped to bring their demands for political reform to Chinese authorities.
The leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), spearheading mass rallies that have paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for six weeks, said they were informed by airline officials that their permits used for travel to the mainland had been cancelled by Chinese authorities.
"Airline officials informed (the leaders) they did not have the required travel documents to get on the plane," Lester Shum, deputy secretary general of HKFS, told reporters.
Fruitless talks with the Hong Kong government almost a month ago have led to an impasse and protest leaders had planned to travel to Beijing to bypass the unpopular local administration altogether.
"We have received information from relevant departments on the mainland that the Home Return Permits of the passengers in question have been cancelled," a Cathay Pacific staff member told the trio, footage from Cable Television News showed.
The permit, issued by mainland authorities, allows Hong Kong residents free travel within mainland China.
Before they were turned back, the three leaders – Nathan Law, Eason Chung and Alex Chow – were mobbed by supporters who unfurled yellow umbrellas, a symbol of the city's democracy movement.
They also carried banners with pro-democracy messages including "we want real elections".
"Dialogue is important for resolving the current (situation) but it depends on whether Beijing has the initiative to open talks with students," HKFS leader Alex Chow said before he was turned back.
The protesters are demanding civil nominations in leadership elections for the semi-autonomous city in 2017.
But China has refused to back down on its insistence that candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee, a decision critics say is designed to ensure the election of a pro-Beijing stooge. - Rappler.com