|Agnes Chow, a Demosisto candidate who was barred from forthcoming elections to Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo), addresses a crowd on Jan. 28, 2018.|
Crushing Freedom Since 1917
(Radio Free Asia) - Hong Kong authorities have banned a key member of the pro-democracy party Demosisto, which was formed by the leaders of the 2014 Occupy Central movement, from standing in a forthcoming by-election to the city’s legislature, sparking outrage among the pan-democratic camp and some legal analysts.
A group of senior lawyers, all of whom are members of the city government’s Chief Executive Election Committee said that the refusal of Agnes Chow’s candidacy for forthcoming elections to the Legislative Council (LegCo) had infringed her fundamental rights, and was a matter of “deep regret and concern.”
The bar on Chow is significant, because it sets a precedent for direct influence on the selection of Hong Kong election candidates according to Beijing’s wishes, casting serious doubts on promises of “a high degree of autonomy” made to the former British colony before the 1997 handover to Chinese rule.
The move prompted thousands of people to gather outside government headquarters late on Sunday in protest at the decision by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) to disqualify Chow, 21, a prominent member of the Demosistō party, from the March by-election.
The EAC told Chow that her candidacy for the Hong Kong Island constituency election was rejected because her party supports self-determination for Hong Kong, local media reported.
Some 2,000 protesters gathered in Civic Square, chanting slogans and carrying placards that read “Hongkong people want Plan A,” in a reference to the fully democratic elections that were denied to the city by Beijing, sparking the Occupy Central movement.
“No disqualification! No to rule by officials!” they shouted.
“I support electoral freedom for Hong Kong,” a protester surnamed Dong told RFA. “Everyone should have the right to stand for elections, and shouldn’t be able to have that right taken from them by any government.”
“This is a very serious situation; a crisis,” she said. Chow described the decision against her as the political liquidation of a whole generation.
“This decision to disqualify me is tantamount to permanently removing the rights of not just me but many other people in Hong Kong to take part in politics,” Chow said. “From now on, the government is saying that the people of Hong Kong will no longer be allowed to vote according to their wishes.”
“Beijing and the Hong Kong government have, politically speaking, wiped out an entire generation,” she said. “It is clear that the government wants to obliterate us.”
The Hong Kong government has backed the EAC’s decision, saying that anyone wishing to run for LegCo must obey the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
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