Four opposition lawmakers disqualified from Hong Kong Parliament

Four opposition lawmakers disqualified from Hong Kong Parliament”

Their ejection robs the pro-democracy movement of its majority in the portion of Hong Kong's legislature that's democratically elected (some seats are appointed), and its ability to wield veto power over some key legislation.

The decision was given based on the Basic Law which was issued by Hong Kong's mini-constitution by Beijing.

The unprecedented intervention was prompted by a string of protests during the swearing in of lawmakers the month before.

The court case against the four lawmakers, initiated by former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, was seen as part of the government's high-profile attempt to unseat popularly elected lawmakers and remove opposition to Beijing in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. "Hong Kong can no longer pretend to (be) any kind of democracy".

The four legislators dismissed on Friday were not staunchly pro-independence but two of them have advocated self-determination for Hong Kong.

"By bringing these cases, the Hong Kong government only reinforces the impression that they are mere puppets of Beijing".

The 24-year-old was one of the most popular candidates to win a seat, gaining 50,000 votes.

Human Rights Watch senior Maya Wang said the verdicts represented "another alarming blow to Hong Kong's fast deteriorating autonomy".

Amnesty International said the decision confirmed the government wanted to "silence and effectively punish" criticism of the political system. Legislators Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu also were also disqualified Friday.

"The whole thing has gone insane", said protester Peggy Sui.

The ruling comes less than two weeks after President Xi Jinping told Hong Kong during a visit to mark 20 years of Chinese rule that challenges to Beijing's authority wouldn't be tolerated.

The handover agreement enshrined liberties unseen on the mainland, including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary, but Beijing has been accused of trampling the deal.

The disqualification is effective from October 12, 2016, according to the court. "In light of manipulation of election results by Beijing, it is more important than ever for Hong Kong to stay strong and firm against the autocracy".

Two pro-independence activists were ousted from the chamber in November after China's top legislature intervened during their hearings to clarify that officials were required to take their oaths "solemnly and sincerely".

Before taking his oath, Nathan Law quoted Mahatma Gandhi, saying that "you can never imprison my mind".

The judgement said Law "was objectively expressing a doubt on or disrespect of the status of the People's Republic of China as Hong Kong's legitimate sovereign country".

Another of those disqualified was veteran activist Leung Kwok-hung, known as "Long Hair".

Edward Yiu, from the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency, added a pledge to "fight for universal suffrage and serve the city's sustainable development", while Lau Siu-lai took her oath in "slow motion" by pausing for six seconds between every word.

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