A group of Hongkongers studying and living in the UK have staged a protest in London against the disqualification of democrat Lau Siu-lai from the upcoming Kowloon West legislative by-election.
Lau’s nomination was declared invalid last Friday, making her the ninth person in Hong Kong to be barred from running for office. Returning Officer Franco Kwok banned Lau claiming she supported independence, despite her denials over recent years. She dismissed the government’s argument, saying it “made absolutely no sense.”
Around 30 people gathered at Trafalgar Square on Sunday evening in protest of the disqualification. They urged the global community and UK government to take notice of the “rapid deterioration of Hong Kong’s human rights and democracy.”
Jobie Yip, a student of the overseas Hongkongers group Democracy for Hong Kong, said there have been multiple attacks on “One Country, Two Systems” in recent months, including the banning of the Hong Kong National Party, the refusal of a foreign journalist’s visa, controversies over potential land reclamation, as well as Lau Siu-lai being stripped of her right to be elected “for life.”
“As overseas Hongkongers, we have an absolute responsibility to get the word out, and strengthen worldwide support for democracy in Hong Kong,” she said.
The protesters held signs that read “Stop Political Screening” and “Right to Self Determination for Hong Kong” as they handed out leaflets to the public.
Lau passed on a written message calling on overseas Hongkongers to pay attention to politics back home.
“The regime has released a clear message to the international community, that its promise over Hong Kong’s status-quo will no longer be kept,” Lau wrote.
She asked overseas Hongkongers to support Lee Cheuk-yan, a former lawmaker, in the November 25 by-election. He was chosen as her substitute to run for election.
Dear all expats and students from Hong Kong, and all UK friends,
Hong Kong is undergoing its historical tipping point.
4 years ago, the denial of genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong by the Chinese government culminated in the the Umbrella Movement, the largest political movement in Hong Kong since 1997 handover of Hong Kong.
Although the movement ended without concrete concession from the Hong Kong and Chinese government, at first the post-UM political scene was not as grim as it have revealed by now. As one of the new born post-UM political camps, I, originally Lecturer of Sociology, organized numerous forums at streets in and after UM, was elected as Legislative Councillor in 2016, with the expectation of the people for a more progressive political culture, for a new wave of democratic movement, and a more just society – as Hong Kong suffers from the worst wealth disparity in the developed world.
However, retaliation from the regime was swift. Pro-independence candidate Edward Leung (among several others) was banned from running the 2016 LegCo election, general elections were no longer free and open. In the aftermath of the Oath-Taking Controversy, Beijing “interpreted” the Article 104 of Basic Law of Hong Kong, thus enabling subsequent lawsuit from the Hong Kong Government, successively disqualified 6 LegCo councilors, including me on 14 July 2017.
Beijing’s interpretation of Basic Law, not only violated political rights of citizens and the rule of law, but at the same time clearly breached the <Sino-British Joint Declaration> – the adoption of “One Country, Two Systems” and the way of life and systems to remained unchanged for 50 years until 2047.
Since last year, a number of activists have been sentenced to unprecedented terms, and Agnes Chow (among others) and her party Demosisto has been banned altogether from LegCo by-election this Spring. As I started preparation for the upcoming 11.25 by-election in an attempt to regain my seat, the political turmoil escalated.
In July, the Police announced that pro-independence “Hong Kong National Party” to be completely outlawed within weeks. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong thus invited HKNP covenor Andy Chan to a talk. Vice-President Victor Mallet of FCC, himself Asia News editor of <Financial Times>, was denied renewal of his visa shortly after, effectively expelled from Hong Kong. This incident has aroused international concern including the European Union, questioning the uphold of freedom of press and speech in Hong Kong.
Victor Mallet left Hong Kong the same day as I received an email from the returning officer, that my nomination as a candidate of the 11.25 by-election has been decided invalid.
The returning officer judged my political views in his own discreet without any procedures of hearing and defending. As this critical decision was made, Chief Executive Carrie Lam responded that she supported the returning officer, believing the judgement was made according to the Basic Law, adding that all candidates advocating independence or self-determination should not expect to be allowed to run for elections. I became the first one among six disqualified former Councillors to officially banned from running for election again. “Lifetime Deprivation of Political Rights”, a punishment previously only heard of in mainland China, has arrived at Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has long been internationally recognized as a free and open city. Unfortunately, we may have reached the tipping point, after 4 years of retaliation and increased violation of civil liberty and rule of law from Beijing. The Article 23 of Basic Law might be implemented anytime soon, imposing permanent restrictions to civil liberty in the name of national security. A HKD 1 trillion artificial island reclamation project is recently announced by the government, hollowing out the financial reserve to “bail out” excess infrastructure production capacity in China, at the same time blurring the line of future Hong Kong and China border under the advocation of Canton Bay Area – tens of thousands of Hong Kong people took to streets today.
The traditional superiority of institution over mainland China is dwindling under the threat of “overall jurisdiction” from Beijing. The regime has released a clear message to the international community, that its promise over Hong Kong’s status-quo will no longer be kept.
The Democratic Camp will still run for the 11.25 by-election with all our determination. Lee Cheuk Yan, veteran ex-Councillor and trade union leader from Labour Party of Hong Kong, has been chosen as my substitute to run for election. To regain the seat is to regain confidence to the democratic movement of Hong Kong. I will not surrender. We will not surrender.
I hereby call upon all of you. For expats and students from Hong Kong, please take every chance to explain Hong Kong’s situation to your peers, urge international concern groups and official organizations to voice out for the injustice in Hong Kong. For all foreigners, your solidarity will be a much needed support for Hong Kong people. I wish we can all help defend Hong Kong at the brink of collapse.
As Keith Richburg, the Director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the HKU and former China correspondent for The Washington Post, stated recently in response to the FCC incident, “It took a while, but ‘The Death of Hong Kong’ has arrived”, “the demise of a once-great open and liberal city really began”.
Lau Siu Lai, founder of Democracy Groundwork, ex-LegCo Councillor of Hong Kong.
“To regain the seat is to regain confidence [in] the democratic movement of Hong Kong. I will not surrender. We will not surrender,” Lau wrote.
“I hereby call upon all of you. For expats and students from Hong Kong, please take every chance to explain Hong Kong’s situation to your peers, urge international concern groups and official organizations to voice out for the injustice in Hong Kong,” she added.
“For all foreigners, your solidarity will be a much needed support for Hong Kong people. I wish we can all help defend Hong Kong at the brink of collapse.”