MPs and campaigners brand the disqualification of four pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong a “direct and shocking assault on democracy”

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 5:56 PM

The disqualification of four pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong has been described as a “direct and shocking assault on democracy” by grassroots campaign group Stand with Hong Kong.

The four were disqualified following a ruling from China’s top legislative body which allows the SAR government to disqualify politicians deemed a threat to national security arbitrarily. The four are Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party and Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild. All of them are considered moderates and they have never supported Hong Kong independence.

Following their disqualification, all Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers have since resigned en masse, announcing that they will hand in their notices on Thursday in protest at the escalation.

John Song, a spokesperson for Stand with Hong Kong, said: “We strongly condemn this barbaric action. The disqualification order coming from Beijing shows China no longer cares about maintaining the façade of ‘One Country, Two Systems’. Beijing is determined to dismantle Hong Kong’s institutions and autonomy through direct rule. This is a flagrant and shameless assault on democracy. The Chinese government has consistently shown itself to be intolerant of dissent, but this escalation signifies that any last pretense at China honouring its international treaty obligation related to Hong Kong has now disappeared.

“Disqualifying democratically elected politicians undermines every fundamental principle of freedom and democracy. Beijing wants to send a clear message that any hint of support for democracy is enough to warrant a drastic response. The remaining pro-democracy politicians had no choice but to resign en masse in protest, leaving Hong Kong without an opposition in legislature for the first time since the handover.

“Stand with Hong Kong are determined to continue the fight and we will not be silenced. Hongkongers stand resolute in these dark hours and we urge our democratic allies worldwide to stand with Hong Kong.”

Alistair Carmichael MP, co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong, said:

“Disqualifying democratically elected officials for doing their job of representing the people they are there to serve is outrageous and utterly unacceptable. This is a clear attack on democracy and the fundamental principles that should be fought for worldwide.

“Senior officials in Hong Kong must be held accountable for their actions and for this assault on democracy. The British government needs to implement Magnitsky-style sanctions which are needed now more than ever before.”

Baroness Bennett, co-Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong, said: "This is a day for sadness, at the further destruction of the rule of law and international order represented in the action against elected legislators by Beijing. But it is also a day for pride and hope, with all the pro-democracy members of the legislative uniting to declare that they would not provide false legitimacy for a chamber denied free speech.

"The international community - with the UK government a key actor as signatory to the Joint Declaration - has the responsibility to ensure that Beijing sees there are serious consequences for its actions, and that the people of Hong Kong know the world is supporting their legally guaranteed rights."

Layla Moran MP, vice-Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong, said on behalf of the Liberal Democrats: “The disqualification of elected lawmakers in Hong Kong is reprehensible and marks another step in China’s work to end democracy and freedom on the peninsula.

“The UK must immediately condemn this in the strongest possible terms and express solidarity with those democrats who have resigned. ‘One country, two systems’ is disappearing before our eyes. First the new national security law, now the unwinding of democracy - at what point will Dominic Raab step up?

“Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to provide safe passage and a clear route to citizenship for all Hong Kongers, and to implement Magnitsky-style sanctions on individuals responsible for human rights abuses there.”

Lord Alton, vice-Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong, said: “The Chinese Communist Party’s determination to silence democratically elected legislators doesn’t auger well for the immediate future of Hong Kong but, try as they may, they CCP cannot forestall the future or silence millions who want democracy and the rule of law. They may temporarily replace two systems, one country, with one system, one party, but time is on the side of the pro-democracy movement and rising generations will salute the courage of legislators who refused to be cowed, who refused to become Quisling or Vichy collaborators, and who courageously said no.”

Owen Thompson MP, vice-Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong, said: "These are deeply troubling times in Hong Kong with a juggernaut being driven through the one-country-two systems framework. The international community must stand together with the Hong Kong democrats, work to protect free speech and support their right to hold power to account."