Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Lawmakers Resign En Masse in Protest

Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers resigned in protest after China ousted four pro-democracy legislators.

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Hong Kong Protests. Image used for representational purposes.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers announced in a press conference on Wednesday, 11 November, that they were resigning en masse after the Hong Kong government expelled four legislators – Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung.

China passed a resolution that allows the Hong Kong government to disqualify politicians they think are a threat to national security, without going through the courts.

15 lawmakers announced their resignation in solidarity to their expelled colleagues hours after the decision of removal was made.

"We, from the pro-democracy camp, will stand with our colleagues. Today we will resign from our positions, because our partners, our colleagues have been disqualified by the Central government's ruthless move," Wu Chi-wai, convener of the pro-democracy camp, reported AP.

"Although we are facing a lot of difficulties in the coming future for the fight of democracy, but we will never, never give up," he said. The pro-democracy legislators will hand in their resignations on 12 November.

China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed a resolution stating that those officials who do not acknowledge China’s sovereignty over the city or support Hong Kong’s independence, which China’s government believes is a threat to national security, must be expelled, reported AP.

Earlier in the year, the four legislators, who are now expelled, were barred from running for the elections. The elections were then postponed for a year from September 2020 following the coronavirus pandemic.

The election postponement was heavily criticised by the pro-democracy legislators as an attempt to prevent them for securing a majority seat in the legislature. In order to decide which candidates should contest the election, there was an unofficial pro-democracy primary where over 600,000 voters polled, reported AP.

Half of the Hong Kong legislature – 70 seats – can be directly elected by Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents. Although the leader must be chosen by pro-Beijing committees.

This mass resignation by pro-democracy leaders is a blow to the independence movement and will result in a legislature that is now entirely pro-Beijing, reported Wion.

Violent Clashes Between Protestors and Police Authorities

The pro-democracy movement has been under sustained attack since China’s new imposition of the national security law that allows the arrest of activists for their offline protests and social media activism. Under the law, activists fleeing overseas or activists who try to involve external parties to support the movement can also be arrested, reported AP.

China’s decision to deny Hong Kong citizens the right to elect their leaders has resulted in violent protests last year where activists clashed with Chinese police authorities. China passed the security law in June to quell the protests, describing it as a "sword" hanging over the head of its critics, reported Wion.

(With inputs from Associate Press and Wion)

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