A group of Hong Kong pro-democracy student leaders were turned away at the airport as they sought to board a flight to Beijing in hopes of meeting with mainland officials to discuss greater freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory.
The South China Morning Post says that an airline staff member told Alex Chow Yong-kang and two others from the Federation of Students — the main group leading protests that began in September — that their travel documents had been revoked by authorities in Beijing.
Chow, Eason Chung Yiu-wa and Nathan Law Kwun-chung “looked shocked when they heard the announcement from a Cathay Pacific staff member, who said the airline was ‘notified this morning’ about the revocation of their home-return permits,” SCMP says.
The Beijing government offered no explanation for the move.
According to the BBC: “The three said they wanted to talk directly with national leaders because so far, the Hong Kong government has told them it is powerless to offer them any concessions.”
The student-led protests were triggered by Beijing’s move to rescind a promise made when the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997 that elections for the territory’s leader would be free and fair by 2017. In a policy paper issued earlier this year, the Chinese leadership said it would retain the authority to hand-pick candidates for the job.