Kenneth Roth was supposed to give a press conference in Hong Kong this week to unveil the New York-based rights group’s latest global survey, which accuses China of prosecuting “an intensive attack” on international human rights agencies.
The long-time executive director said Sunday that he was turned back by authorities at the city’s airport.
China last month announced sanctions on American NGOs, including HRW, in retaliation for the passage of a US bill backing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
“Allowing or not allowing someone’s entry is China’s sovereign right,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.
“Plenty of facts and evidence show that the relevant NGO has through various means supported anti-China radicals, encouraged them to engage in extremist, violent and criminal activity, and incited Hong Kong independence separatist activities,” Geng said.
“They bear major responsibility for the current chaos in Hong Kong. These organisations should be punished, and should pay the proper price.”
Hong Kong has been battered by nearly seven months of occasionally violent protests, its biggest political crisis in decades.
Millions have turned out on the streets of the semi-autonomous financial hub to demand greater democratic freedoms.
“Why does Beijing advance the ludicrous fiction that @HRW incited the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests?” Roth fired back on Twitter.
“Because it is desperate to pretend that hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens aren’t protesting Beijing’s increasingly dictatorial rule.”