SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 28, 2019

Attack Types: Travel Restrictions


Region & Country:Eastern Asia | Hong Kong 

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 28, 2019, Hong Kong border authorities reportedly refused to permit American political scientist and author Dan Garrett to enter the country, in apparent retaliation for his public expression related to democracy and human rights in the region.

Garrett holds a PhD in political science, has written about protest movements in Hong Kong, including a book titled “Counter-Hegemonic Resistance in China’s Hong Kong,” and had recently testified before the United States Congress about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. He reported that he was traveling to Hong Kong in advance of the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Umbrella Movement to work on several ongoing projects, including a book and several documentaries. Upon arriving at the airport in Hong Kong, he was reportedly questioned for four hours, and was denied entry for “immigration reasons” that were not specified. Garrett reported that he asked the border officials who questioned him to explain their decision, and that they refused, indicating that the decision was the purview of Hong Kong’s Immigration Department alone, and they were not required to provide an explanation.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about restrictions on a scholar’s travel, apparently aimed at retaliating for or preventing nonviolent academic or expressive activity. Such actions obstruct the exercise of the rights to academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association – conduct which is protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. State authorities have a responsibility to protect academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom and association, and to refrain from imposing arbitrary restrictions on movement intended to limit these freedoms. Such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.