A dozen pro-democracy candidates have been disqualified from running in government said Thursday, adding that more people could be disqualified ahead of the scheduled September 6 vote. Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was one of the 12 people barred from running due to his opposition to China's new "national security" law, along with some members of a moderate opposition group, the Civic Party.'s upcoming election, the
"Beijing has now staged the biggest ever crackdown on the city's election by disqualifying nearly all pro-democracy runners from young progressive groups to traditional moderate parties," Wong said in a statement. "Clearly, Beijing shows a total disregard for the will of all Hong Kongers, tramples on the city's last pillar of vanishing autonomy, and attempts to keep Hong Kong's legislature under its firm grip."
Thecomes after the passage of a wide-ranging and vague new by Beijing, which came into effect in Hong Kong earlier this month. Under the new law, people in the semi-autonomous Chinese city can be charged with things like "sedition" and "secession," put on trial in mainland courts, and potentially face sentences of life in prison. Critics have called the law an effective end to free speech in Hong Kong, which until its passage, had its freedoms enshrined under a policy known as "one country, two systems."
"The disqualification of myself and… other pro-democracy candidates from #HongKong's #LegCo #election further exposes the true nature of the #NationalSecurityLaw," Kwok Ka-ki, a Civic Party member who was also disqualified from the upcoming vote, said on Twitter.
Candidates in Hong Kong's legislative elections are required to pledge allegiance to Hong Kong and its de facto constitution, the Basic Law. In a letter outlining the reasons why Wong was disqualified, the government said, citing his past social media posts, that his "expression of an objection in principle to the enactment of National Security Law demonstrates to an objective reasonable person that the Candidate does not embrace, promote and support the fundamental principle of 'one country, two systems,' and therefore objectively cannot have the intention to uphold the Basic Law."
"The excuse they used is that I described the national security law as a draconian law," Wong said. "No matter what happens, I still have faith, hope and trust in Hong Kong people, and we will continue to have our democracy movement."
Hong Kong has disqualified candidates from elections before, but not on this scale, and there is concern that it may seek to postpone the September vote entirely citing public health and the coronavirus.
"In order to safeguard the city's future, Hong Kongers will not surrender," Wong said. "Our resistance will continue, and we hope the world can stand with us in the upcoming uphill battle."