Hong Kong lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was detained on Monday morning along with eight others as they entered Macau. They intended to present a letter to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who is visiting the city.

The group of nine, which included Tam Tak-chi, the vice-chairman of pro-democracy group People Power, was sent back to Hong Kong after being detained for around six hours. The League of Social Democrats (LSD), Leung’s party, said the group was unreachable until 3pm.

According to a live video broadcast shortly before his arrest, Leung said that police were already waiting when he arrived in Macau. He said: “I don’t know what this group of police officers are doing, but this time we may not even be able to get into [Macau].”

Leung’s group began protesting as they walked towards immigration control. Meanwhile, the police said that it was a restricted area and that it was forbidden to congregate and call out slogans. The nine were then taken away by police, and given documents stating that the reason for refusing their entry was due to the violation of Macau’s internal security law.

Kwok Yiu-cheong, a member of the LSD who was arrested, said that he was forced to delete photographs relating to their petition from his phone before being released.

Leung Kwok Hung
Leung Kwok Hung. File photo: HKFP/Tom Grundy.

In their protest and in the petition letter, the group called for universal suffrage as well as an end to one party rule. They also called for the vindication of political prisoners such as Liu Xiaobo.

After returning to Hong Kong, Leung told reporters that the methods of the Macau police had retrogressed and that he had “never gotten off the boat to have people come towards him immediately, like in spy or kidnapping films.” He also said that the Macanese authorities did not answer any questions. Leung said: “if they were going to deport us then [we] would leave immediately – there is no reason to [stay] a few more hours.”

Macau tightened security ahead of Li’s visit. Former activists were denied entry into the special administrative region on the grounds that they posed threats to the territory’s internal security.

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.