Exiled Tiananmen leader stopped in Hong Kong

HONG KONG - A prominent pro-democracy leader from China's Tiananmen Square protests was stopped at Hong Kong airport Monday in his latest attempt to return to his homeland and visit his ailing parents.

Wuer Kaixi, who fled to Taiwan after the 1989 protests and the subsequent Chinese government crackdown, was intercepted by the semi-autonomous city's immigration officials around noon after he arrived by flight from Taipei, the activist said.

"When I stepped off the plane, immigration officials at the exit of the jet bridge led me to the their office," the 45-year-old told AFP by phone.

"I expressed clearly...I was turning myself in and asked them for their assistance," he said.

Lam Yiu-keung, a Hong Kong-based lawyer who had been with the activist at the airport to provide assistance, said the immigration officials did not give a reason for intercepting him.

"We have not yet received a reply of intended action from the Hong Kong government," he told AFP.

"Mr. Wuer Kaixi has said he wanted to seek assistance from the Hong Kong government to return to the mainland to see his parents," he said, adding that he used a Thailand-bound air ticket to leave Taiwan.

Wuer has made several recent attempts to return to China and said he wanted to see his ailing parents after nearly a quarter of a century in exile.

"Since 1989, I have been in exile for 24 years, and have not been able to see my parents and other family members," he said in an online statement dated Monday.

"My parents are old and in ill health. The Chinese government refuses to issue passports for them to travel aboard and visit me," he said.

He told AFP that his father had heart disease and his mother had suffered a stroke.

He described his visit to Hong Kong as a "last resort" following several failed attempts to return to his homeland.

In 2009, he was repatriated to Taiwan after he attempted to enter the city of Macau, the Chinese gambling centre under Beijing's control.

In 2010, he was arrested after entering the Chinese embassy in Tokyo.

Wuer, who hails from China's Uighur ethnic minority, managed to flee to Hong Kong before arriving in Taiwan, where he now lives, after the bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in 1989.

An official Chinese Communist Party verdict after the Tiananmen protests branded the movement a "counter-revolutionary rebellion".

A prominent student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square, Wuer gained fame for openly criticising then premier Li Peng during a dialogue with students in 1989.

Since returning to Chinese rule in 1997, Hong Kong enjoys a level of civil liberty that is unavailable in China under the so-called "One Country Two Systems" which guarantees the city a semi-autonomous status.

Every year, tens of thousands of residents gather at the city's Victoria Park to mark the crackdown.