我被拒入境是香港的悲哀


作者:英国保守党人权委员会副主席 Benedict Rogers

20年前,我刚毕业便飞到香港开始我的第一份工作。时值香港主权移交几个月,我在香港过了快乐的五年,从1997年起当记者,直至2002年。我从来没想过,20年之后,我会被拒入境香港。

过去三年,我越来越关注香港的自由、法治被侵蚀,以及「一国两制」面临威胁的情况。正因如此,我也越来越多机会参与为香港发声。我很荣幸曾在伦敦接待过黄之锋、罗冠聪与陈方安生,又与李柱铭紧密合作。他们都是英雄,也是我的朋友。我想这是合适时机再访香港,只是简单地见见人、多听多了解现况。过去15年我曾多次到香港,但近几年则没有回来。

此行原本希望与人们私下见面。我已谨慎地查询过,有否可能探望正在监狱服刑的黄之锋、罗冠聪与周永康,可惜约在一星期前我发现这是不可能的事。很不幸,即使只是查询,亦已引起中国当局的注意。

上星期五已经初露端倪,我接到一通来自英国国会议员的电话。我跟他颇熟悉,也非常尊敬他。他告诉我他接到了中国驻伦敦大使馆的电话,对方对我此行冀探望三名学生领袖的行径表达关注,更表明此举会「严重威胁中英关系」。我请他向中国大使馆重申,我不会尝试到访任何监狱。

我选择妥协,即使或许有人会认为这是做得过火,但我亦只希望为事情降温,我自愿向中国当局保证,不会在香港有任何公开活动或接受媒体访问。我更提出在回程后与中国大使会面,进行建设性的讨论,听取他们的看法。不过这些提议换来的只有拒绝,还有更进一步的威胁,告诫我将会被拒绝入境香港。

看来还有另一因素。我是保守党人权委员会副主席,这是公余的义务职务,我亦在保守党候选人名单之列。似乎中国当局误会了我的境况,一开始认为我是国会议员、政党高层或是政府官员,由此引伸出我今次香港之行,是代表政党。这是可以谅解的,因为他们或许不理解英国政党乃是由个人、独立思想组成的,而且义务党员与正式党员亦有区别,代表党行事与私下行事亦不相同。我试图通过第三方向大使馆保证,我绝对不会代表党,更不会代表政府,强调此行纯属私人性质,以普通公民身份,私下与新知旧友在香港见面。

不幸的是,这也无法满足中国当局。

与他人商量过后,我认为如果我陷入来自大使馆经第三方传达非正式的文字讯息的压力,我就会一如平日批评他人一样做同一件事:向中国叩头。我的良心不允许我这么做。如果我在第一道关卡就退缩,还怎么面对黄之锋、罗冠聪、周永康、李柱铭、陈方安生等人呢?所以我决定按原定行程尝试入境,当作测试。或许他们只是在虚张声势说不让我入境,希望我息事宁人而作罢。又或许他们是认真的,他们就要公开、正式拒绝我入境,向世界展示「一国两制」被侵蚀的另一事例。

很遗憾,后一种情况最终发生了。抵港之后我步向关口,向入境处人员出示护照。入境处人员将我的名字输入计算机,显然计算机说了「不可以」。她(入境处人员)向上级请示,并带我到柜枱后的房间叫我等候。过了不久,一个穿着便服的官员和我见面,我向她保证今次行程属私人性质,私下见见朋友,又提到我曾经在香港生活过五年。她查看我的酒店预订,我还在想或许她们会放行。但是,一会儿后她正式告知我被拒绝入境,将把我送上返回曼谷的航班,亦即今次航程的出发地。

我必须强调,我对拒绝我入境、一直「看顾」我的入境处人员绝无责怪之意。他们只是执行他们的职务,而且他们尽可能友善和礼貌地待我,他们给我水,又向我微笑。的确,我的印象是他们并不想这样做(拒绝我入境),他们只是在执行上头的指示,他们控制不了。

我在等待上机时,转向身旁的入境处人员微笑,感谢他对我照顾有加。我问:「一国两制是否已死?一国一制,对吧?」他眼泛泪光,恳切地说:「先生,我只是在履行职务,我不能评论。谢谢你的合作。」我向他说我知道,我不会怪他。

稍后,我们在上机前握了手,我对他说:「对香港来说,这是非常悲哀的一天。对我来说也悲哀,我无法探望在香港的朋友,但对香港而言特别悲哀,拒绝一个没有犯罪的公民入境。」他点头,再次眼泛泪光,「我明白。这很悲哀。」我临上机前向他说最后一句话:「希望事情会变得更好。」

「一国两制」的原意理应为「港人治港」。但很明显,今次拒绝我入境的决定并非来自香港,而是来自中国当局。「一国两制」的原意理应为法治,惟即使何俊仁律师坐列车赶来机场,希望看看有甚么能帮得上忙,最终也未能成事,因为在那之前我已被带上飞机。「一国两制」的原意理应为表达自由、结社自由,这是香港的基本权利,惟尽管我保证不会参与任何公开活动,只有私人性质会面,但我自己的表达自由,以及我希望能会面的人的表达和结社自由,都已经被剥夺了。

我倒没关系,香港才是重点。从今次严峻的、个人的、悲痛的亲身经历可知,即使「一国两制」仍然未死去,亦已行将消亡殆尽,而且正在加快。世界各国必须醒觉,尤其作为《中英联合声明》签署方的英国。我对中英关系不会构成任何威胁,但我相信中国当局的举动,尤其是在香港的行径,反而会(构成威胁)。

(《苹果日报》编者注: Benedict Rogers周三入境香港被拒后,以英文撰述经过及感受。此中文版为本报所译,标题为编者所加,原文如下。)

Twenty years ago, as a fresh graduate, I flew to Hong Kong just a few months after the handover, to begin my first job. I spent five very happy years working as a journalist in Hong Kong, from1997-2002. I never expected that twenty years later, I would be refused entry to Hong Kong.

In the past three years I have become increasingly concerned about the erosion of Hong Kong's freedoms and the rule of law, and the threats to“one country, two systems”. As a result, I have been increasingly engaged in advocacy for Hong Kong. I have had the privilege of hosting, in London, Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Anson Chan, and of working closely with Martin Lee– all heroes and friends of mine. I decided it was time for me visit Hong Kong again, simply to meet people and to listen and learn about the current situation. I had visited Hong Kong several times over the past fifteen years, but had not been back for a few years.

My intention was to meet people privately. I had made discrete enquiries about whether or not it would be possible or desirable to visit Joshua Wong, Nathan Law or Alex Chow in prison, but I had realized a week or more ago that it would not be possible. Unfortunately, even enquiring about the possibility drew the attention of the Chinese authorities.

The first indication I had that there was a problem came last Friday, when I received a telephone call from a British Member of Parliament whom I know well and respect greatly. He informed me he had received calls from the Chinese Embassy in London, expressing concern that an attempt to visit these three student leaders would pose“a grave threat to Sino-British relations”. I asked him to reassure the Chinese Embassy that I would not be attempting to visit any prisons.

I took a further step– a compromise, some might say one too big, but one intended to de-escalate the situation– by voluntarily assuring them that I would not undertake any public engagements or media interviews while in Hong Kong. I also offered to meet the embassy upon my return, for a constructive discussion and to hear their perspectives. These offers were rebuffed and I received further, increasingly threatening messages from the embassy, culminating in a message warning me that I would be denied entry.

It appears there was another factor too. I serve as Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a voluntary role in my spare time, and I am on the Conservative Party's Candidates List. It appears that the Chinese authorities misunderstood my status and thought at first that I was a Member of Parliament or a senior party or government official, and that my visit to Hong Kong would be in an official capacity on behalf of the party. I suppose one could forgive them for that mistake, because in China a party member is a party member come what may. They perhaps don't understand that British political parties are made up of individual, independent minds– and furthermore there's a difference between a voluntary party member and a party official, and a difference between someone acting on behalf of the party and someone acting in a private, personal capacity. Nevertheless I sought to reassure the embassy, via a third party, that I was absolutely not representing the party, and certainly not the government, and that my visit was a purely personal, private visit to meet old friends and new acquaintances in Hong Kong, as a private citizen.

Unfortunately, that did not satisfy either.

In consultation with others, I took the view that if I were to cave in to pressure from the embassy, sent through unofficial text messages via a third party, I would be doing exactly what I have criticized others of doing: kowtowing to China. My conscience would not allow me to do that. How could I look my friends Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow, Martin Lee, Anson Chan and others in the eye if I caved at the first hurdle? I decided therefore that I had to put it to the test by going as planned to Hong Kong. Perhaps they were bluffing, threatening to deny me entry in the hope that I would go away quietly. Or, if they were serious, then they would have to refuse me entry formally and publicly, exposing to the world yet another example of the erosion of one country, two systems.

Very regrettably, the latter course was what occurred. I landed in Hong Kong, proceeded to immigration, and when my turn came I presented my passport and arrival card as normal. The immigration officer put my name into the computer, and evidently the computer said no. She called other officers over, they took me to a private room behind the counters, and I was asked to wait. After a little while a plain clothes official conducted an interview with me. I assured her that my visit was a private, personal visit to meet friends, and that I had lived in Hong Kong for five years. She took details of my hotel booking, and I thought perhaps they were about to allow me in. A little later, however, she informed me that the decision had been made to deny me entry, and put me back on the flight to Bangkok, which was where I had flown from.

It is important to emphasise that I do not in any way blame the immigration officers who“looked after” me during this time. They were just doing their job and, in the circumstances, they treated me as kindly and courteously as possible. Their manner was polite and friendly, they offered me water, they smiled. Indeed, I had the impression that they really did not want to be doing this, but that they were operating according to orders from above, beyond their control.

As I waited to board I turned gently to the officer standing with me. I smiled, and I thanked him for looking after me well.“Is one country, two systems dead now?”, I asked.“One country, one system, right?” He looked with a hint of tears in his eyes, pleadingly.“Sir please, I am just doing my job. I cannot comment. Thank you for your cooperation”. I reassured him that I knew he was only doing his job, and that I did not blame him.

A little later, as we shook hands at the entrance to the plane, I said to him:“This is a very sad day for Hong Kong. It’s sad for me, that I am unable to visit my friends in Hong Kong, but it’s particularly sad for Hong Kong, that a private citizen who has committed no crime is refused entry.” He nodded, again with a hint of tears.“I understand. It is sad,” he said. My final word to him was this:“I hope things will change for the better”.

“One country, two systems” is supposed to mean“Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong”. Yet it is overwhelmingly clear that the decision to deny me entry to Hong Kong was not taken in Hong Kong, but by the Chinese regime.“One country, two systems” is supposed to mean the rule of law, yet a solicitor, Albert Ho, who very kindly took the train out to the airport in order to meet me and see if he could assist, was denied access to me because I was put back on the plane before he could reach me.“One country, two systems” is supposed to mean basic rights in Hong Kong– freedom of expression and association– yet despite assurances from me that I would not engage in any public events, and would simply be having private meetings, my own freedom of expression and more importantly the freedom of expression and association of those I had hoped to meet has been curtailed.

This is not about me. It is about Hong Kong. And it is clear from this very stark, personal, first-hand and painful experience that if“one country, two systems” is not yet completely dead, it is dying rapidly, being decapitated limb by limb with accelerating speed. The world, and especially the United Kingdom with its responsibilities under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, must wake up to this. I am no threat to Sino-British relations. But I believe the conduct of the Chinese regime, particularly in Hong Kong, is.

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