Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the UK Conservative party’s human rights commission, has spoken out about anonymous letters sent to his mother and neighbours asking them to “watch him.”
The series of menacing letters – seen by HKFP – were sent by airmail from Hong Kong in March, June and July. “It was obviously an attempt to discredit me in the eyes of my neighbours and intimidate me into silence,” he said in a Huffington Post blog post.
The letters “warned” recipients about Rogers, who was denied entry into Hong Kong last October for “intervening” in the city’s internal affairs. Rogers told HKFP that a letter was sent to his mother in June urging her to “talk some sense into him.” He does not know how the sender found her address.
Paolo Valli, one of Rogers’ neighbours, tweeted photos of a letter he received in March. It said: “I am writing to make you aware of a resident in your neighbourhood. Mr. Benedict Rogers. We are asking that you keep an eye on him, as he has recently been barred… for the purpose of subversion, inciting political revolution and failing to declare his true intentions for travel.”
Rogers is an outspoken critic of China and advocate of Hong Kong democracy, having lived in the city between 1997 and 2002. Following the imprisonment of activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow last year, he expressed criticism of the international community, saying they had failed to condemn the sentences.
He founded human rights NGO Hong Kong Watch in 2017.
‘Intended to silence me’
Last week, further letters – appearing to be from the same sender – were sent to his neighbours once again, including screenshots of him at a recent Hong Kong Watch event. “I am writing to give you a quick update about your neighbour the Sanctimonious Benedict Rogers and his futile attempt to destabilize Hong Kong/China with his hatred of the Chinese people and our political system,” it read.
Rogers said that he reported the letters to the British police. The identity of the sender remains unknown.
Rogers said: “[T]hese letters were clearly intended to silence me. In fact, they are like a boomerang. I will not be intimidated into silence… This isn’t and must never be about me, for what I have experienced is merely symbolic of the lengths to which some will go to try to silence dissent.”
Martin Lee, founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party said: “Ben is a moderate and thoughtful man, a friend of Hong Kong whose advocacy of human rights is truly in the spirit of the Sino-British declaration. The government of Hong Kong should take his perspectives seriously and must do all they can to bring those sending these letters to justice.”
Last October, a similar series of anonymous threatening letters were sent to HKFP staff accusing them of spreading “hatred and dividing Hong Kong, China society.” Hong Kong police are still investigating.
Additional Reporting: Tom Grundy.