Twelve pro-democracy candidates, including a prominent Hong Kong activist and a former 2014 activist, were officially disqualified on Thursday. Joshua Wong, head of the umbrella movement. Among the other victims are a number of candidates from more traditional pro-democracy parties, as well as several young activists who cut their political teeth in the pro-democracy protest movement last year.
In a statement, the Hong Kong government said it supported the decisions of the returning officials to “invalidate 12 candidates for this year’s General Council (LegCo) general election”.
He said candidates were banned because they would not abide by a basic law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution, recently expanded by a new security law introduced by Beijing to a city that criminalizes secession, enslavement, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
“Returning officials are still reviewing the validity of other nominations under the law,” the government added. “We do not rule out the possibility that more nominations will be declared invalid.”
The election is in doubt
Several letters posted online by candidates for returning officers informing them of their decision cited previous opposition to security law as the reason for the relocation.
“The excuse they use is that I describe (security law) as a draconian law that shows that I don’t support this ambitious law,” Wong said.
The disqualification comes as a result of circulating reports that the government is preparing to postpone the election, which is due to take place on September 6, until next year as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the city.
It is unclear how disqualification will affect whether another round of nominations will take place next year if the polls are postponed.
In a statement, the Hong Kong government stated that it “respects and defends the legitimate rights of the people of Hong Kong, including the right to vote and to stand for election.”
Police said three men and one woman between the ages of 16 and 21 were arrested.
Although police refused to name the group or those arrested, the Studentlocalism political group said on Facebook that its members were among the detainees, naming one of them as former leader Tony Chung.
Student localism was one of several Hong Kong political groups that announced the cessation of operations in the city due to the new security law, although it did not delete its social media pages and said overseas activists would continue their work.
At a news conference at the end of Wednesday, police spokesman Lee Kwai-wah said the organization had “announced the formation of a new party defending Hong Kong’s independence on social media.”
“We have to enforce the law, even if crimes are committed online. Don’t think you can escape responsibility in cyberspace and commit crimes,” Lee added.