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China defends barring Human Rights Watch head from Hong Kong

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China on Monday defended barring the head of Human Rights Watch from entering Hong Kong, saying non-governmental organizations were responsible for political unrest in the city and should “pay the proper price”.

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.

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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.”

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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.

– Not the first –

Roth joins a growing list of openly critical academics, researchers, politicians and activists who have been refused entry in recent years.

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Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet was denied a visa renewal without reason in 2018 after he hosted a talk with the leader of a small and now banned independence party at the city’s press club.

Last September, an American academic was barred from entering after he testified in a Congressional hearing alongside prominent Hong Kong democracy activists.

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“I had hoped to spotlight Beijing’s deepening assault on international efforts to uphold human rights,” Roth said. “The refusal to let me enter Hong Kong vividly illustrates the problem.”

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said that when Roth asked why he was prevented from entering Hong Kong, he was only told that it was “immigration reasons”.

“What we believe is that he was stopped because the Chinese government is afraid to have the world know what they are doing to the people of Hong Kong and the people of China,” Robertson told AFP in Bangkok.

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The unrest that began last June is the biggest crisis the former British colony has faced since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.

Under the terms of the handover, Hong Kong enjoys unique freedoms unseen on the mainland, but in recent years fears have increased that these liberties are being chipped away as Beijing exerts more control over the territory.

China and the Hong Kong administration have refused to cede to the protesters’ demands, which include fully free elections in the city, an inquiry into alleged police misconduct, and amnesty for the nearly 6,500 people arrested during the movement — nearly a third of them under the age of 20.

Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which was to host Roths’ press conference on Wednesday, said in a statement it was concerned that the city’s government was using the immigration department to “act punitively against organisations and media representatives it does not agree with, which is a violation of the commitment to free expression and free speech in Hong Kong law.”

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Trump adviser Larry Kudlow: ‘We don’t want to have’ voting rights protections get through Congress

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On CNBC News Thursday, President Donald Trump's economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that the administration does not want protection of voting rights to pass as part of the coronavirus stimulus package.

"So much of the Democratic asks are really liberal left wishlists we don't want to have," said Kudlow. "Voting rights, and aid to aliens, and so forth. That's not our game."

Talks between Congress and the White House are currently at an impasse. The administration is refusing to support outlays greater than $1 trillion, and the president has explicitly demanded there be no funding for the Postal Service, to keep voting by mail as difficult as possible.

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Black man adopted by white Alabama family fights for Confederate symbols: ‘I’m not going to take my flag down’

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A Black Alabama man this week said that he was fighting to save Confederate monuments because members of his adopted white family fought in the U.S. Civil War.

WHNT spoke to Daniel Sims outside the courthouse in Marshall County, where activists are calling for the removal of Confederate monuments. Sims said that he opposed the effort to take down the monuments.

"Regardless of how the next person feels, I'm not going to take my flag down," Sims said. "If I've got anything to do with it, ain't no monument going to come down."

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Sarah Palin offered advice to Sen. Kamala Harris on running for vice president, but social media users didn't want to hear it.

The former Republican vice presidential nominee and one-time half-term governor of Alaska appeared Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America," where she complained about the media coverage of her failed 2008 campaign alongside Sen. John McCain.

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