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Hong Kong disqualifies 12 democrats from election

Members of the Civic Party at a news conference in Hong Kong on Thursday.

Members of the Civic Party at a news conference in Hong Kong on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: AP

Hong Kong’s government said on Thursday 12 pro-democracy candidates had been disqualified from running for election to the legislature, citing opposition to a new national security law imposed by Beijing, but denied infringing civil rights.

Disqualified candidates included pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, some members of the Civic Party, a moderate, old-guard opposition group, and others who won an unofficial ”primary” vote held by the opposition camp this month.

The move is sure to infuriate supporters of democracy, a month after Communist Party rulers in Beijing announced the national security law that reins in dissent in the semi-autonomous city. It could also steer China further onto a collision path with the West.

The government said there could be more disqualifications.

Critics said the move sought to curb the ascendancy of a young, more defiant generation of pro-democracy activists after an overwhelming win in last year’s lower-level district council elections.

“Clearly, #Beijing shows a total disregard for the will of the #Hongkongers, tramples upon the citys last pillar of vanishing autonomy and attempts to keep #HKs legislature under its firm grip,” Mr. Wong tweeted.

Possibility of poll delay

Chances for a historic majority in the Legislative Council, or mini-parliament, for the opposition camp will take a further blow if the government decides to postpone the September 6 vote, as expected, amid the pandemic.

Hong Kong has disqualified candidates before but not on this scale. The disqualification of Civic Party candidates signals Beijing is becoming less tolerant of even moderate democrats, who have for decades been a vocal opposition in the legislature.

“The government is constructing a CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Assembly in Legco to eliminate most of the opposition voices. Outrageous, Nathan Law, a pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker who was kicked out of the legislature, said on Twitter. Mr. Law fled Hong Kong for Britain earlier this month.

The Civic Party said its existence is not confined to the legislature, often referred to as Legco, and it will continue to work for its values.“When the regime wishes to enslave us, the best thing to do is to stand firm and tell the regime we would not change,” said Civic Party member Kwok Ka-ki, who was among those disqualified.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong police have arrested four people aged 16-21 for suspected offences under the city's new national security law, the first such detentions outside of street protests since the legislation took effect a month ago. “We arrested for ... subversions and for the organising and also the inciting (of) secession,” said Li Kwai-wah, police superintendent at the national security department.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 8:11:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/hong-kong-disqualifies-12-democrats-from-election/article32233078.ece

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