Demosistō’s Joshua Wong said that prior to his detainment at the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, he had “not felt such fear” since his arrest prior to the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.

Wong wrote an account of his ordeal in Bangkok whilst on a Hong Kong Airlines flight back home on Wednesday. Thai authorities refused him entry after his name appeared on a blacklist provided by China.

closed room detention
Window of detention room. Photo: Joshua Wong via Facebook.

Wong said that he had thought during his time in a closed detention room about whether “the Thai government would, according to some national security law in the country, bring me to the Thai court, and then drag it out a week or two before sending me back to Hong Kong.”

He said he felt intimidated and feared he would be found guilty of some crime in Thailand and jailed for a few years, preventing his return home.

‘Clear connection’

The activist was received by 20 Thai customs officers and police as he exited the plane and headed into the airport building in Bangkok. He told Hong Kong reporters on Wednesday that he was asked whether he was Joshua Wong, and was then requested to hand over his passport.

Wong also said in the press conference that after he returned to Hong Kong, “the Thai government openly told Thai media that they had received directions from China to put me on the blacklist. I believe that the origin of this incident is clear, I think that the key is that it clearly is connected to the Beijing government.”

the nation joshua wong
The Nation, which reported on Beijing’s connection to the incident on Thursday. Photo: The Nation.

“The Chinese police have already set up the Department of Overseas Fugitives Affairs, saying that some countries and territories have better conditions for arrest, [and] I believe Thailand is one of them,” he added. “China used its power to suppress Hong Kong activists.”

See also: ‘This is Thailand, the same as China’: Joshua Wong recounts experience of detention in Bangkok

“If this had happened in Hong Kong, I could contact my lawyers and media friends and buy some time – but I was in the Bangkok airport, unfamiliar with the situation. I could not connect to Wi-Fi on my phone in time, so there was no chance of requesting outside help. So I could only pass on my passport…” he said in his statement.

Whilst under detention, he was unable to contact anybody, including his lawyer and family.

Joshua Wong
Joshua Wong. screencap.

“My heart was so tired that I did not know what to do, I could not contact the world – the breaking of ties is really scary. But I strained to tell myself that no matter what, I cannot cry, I cannot let state authorities like these customs officers and police feel like they have successfully dealt me a blow,” he said. “My emotions were so chaotic I could not sleep, and I finally understood what ‘freedom from fear’ meant.”

He said that this experience of being detained was 10 or even 100 times scarier than when he was arrested in Hong Kong, but he would not hesitate to travel to other countries. However, he said he had no plans to return to Thailand or Malaysia, which he was denied entry to last year.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.