British activist slams letter threats over Hong Kong campaign

2017 photo of a Hong Kong Watch protest in London. PHOTO: Benedict Rogers

A British activist who campaigns for the protection of Hong Kong’s freedoms said Friday his mother and neighbors in the United Kingdom had received menacing letters urging him to stop.

Benedict Rogers, founder of Britain-based Hong Kong Watch and deputy chairman of the governing Conservative Party’s human rights commission, said he believed the letters were a direct response to his speaking up for the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

Rogers was turned away from Hong Kong last year by immigration after landing for what he said was a private trip, prompting accusations the city was blacklisting activists.

Hong Kong enjoys rights unseen on the mainland but there are growing concerns those liberties are under threat from Beijing, which is becoming less tolerant of any signs of dissent across its territories.

The anonymous letters sent to Rogers’ 77-year-old mother in Dorset and to his neighbors’ homes in Surrey were posted in Hong Kong, Rogers said.

The letter to his mother said he had “decided to take on a ‘crusade’ like attitude towards my country China and city Hong Kong” and urged her to “talk some sense into him”.

Two different letters sent to his neighbors asked that they “keep an eye” on Rogers and included a photograph of him with the caption “Watch him”.

“If people disagree with my position on Hong Kong with me directly they are very welcome to do so, but to target my neighbors and my mother is unacceptable,” Rogers told AFP by email.

Rogers described the letters as amateurish and said he did not know who had sent them.

“If it is the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), it should be taken as yet another example of China extending its reach beyond its borders, and on that level it should be taken seriously,” he said.

Rogers said he had reported each letter to the police and British foreign office.

A similar threatening letter was sent last year to the UK family home of Hong Kong-based British journalist Tom Grundy, chief editor of the Hong Kong Free Press news site.

Letters were also sent to the publication’s staff and contributors.

“The format and writing style of the threats we received last year are identical to those aimed at Rogers,” Grundy told AFP, adding that Hong Kong police were still investigating.

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