Four Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers were expelled from the city’s legislature Wednesday.
The four politicians were ousted immediately after a Chinese legislative committee ruled that Hong Kong’s government could disqualify any lawmaker believed to be a threat to national security without going through the courts.
The dismissals of Alvin Yeung, Denis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung comes just two days after 19 pro-democracy lawmakers in the city’s 70-seat legislature threatened to quit en masse if any of them were disqualified. A mass resignation would leave the body with only pro-Beijing lawmakers.
Dennis Kwok told reporters Wednesday the quartet’s disqualification violated the city’s Basic Law and he and his colleagues' right to due process.
The four disqualified lawmakers were also among 12 legislators barred from running in elections initially scheduled to be held in September. The government has postponed the elections for a year, citing the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The disqualifications appear to be the latest effort by Beijing to quell pro-democracy forces in the semi-autonomous city, which was engulfed by massive and often violent pro-democracy demonstrations in the last half of 2019.
The mainland’s communist government passed a sweeping new security law back in June in response to the demonstrations, under which anyone in Hong Kong believed to be carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces could be tried and face life in prison if convicted.
Western governments and human rights advocates say the measure effectively ends the self-autonomy guaranteed under the pact that switched control of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997.