Responding to the disqualification of 12 pro-democracy candidates from running in Hong Kong’s upcoming Legislative Council elections, Amnesty International Hong Kong’s Programme Manager Lam Cho Ming said:
“This mass disqualification appears to be a concerted effort specifically targeting candidates who advocate viewpoints at odds with those of the government. This would amount to discrimination against a particular opinion on political grounds, which is a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and association.
“This move is likely to intensify the climate of fear and tension in Hong Kong, where opposition figures, their supporters, activists on the streets and even ordinary people have been forced to self-censor their political discourse to avoid being targeted under the city’s new national security law.
“For all the Hong Kong government’s insistence that these decisions do not restrict ‘freedom of speech’, its actions reek of political repression. These disqualifications appear to be arbitrary, given that the authorities’ own justification makes clear their intention to punish peaceful criticism and advocacy of opposing views.”
Among the disqualified candidates is prominent opposition figure Joshua Wong, as well as several incumbent lawmakers and young activists who secured the most votes in the pro-democracy “primaries” last month.
The Hong Kong government today issued a statement on the disqualifications in which it said there is “no question of any political censorship, restriction of the freedom of speech or deprivation of the right to stand for elections as alleged by some members of the community”.
At the same time, it cited behaviours including advocating for Hong Kong independence, soliciting intervention by foreign governments and objecting to the recently enacted National Security Law in principle as reasons that lawmakers “could not genuinely uphold” their constitutional duty.
The rights to freedom of expression and association, equality before the law and not to be discriminated against on the ground of political opinion are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is enshrined in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution.
Amnesty international is a global human rights movement, independent of any government, political ideology or economic interest. Raising concerns about human rights violations against individual candidates, members or supporters of a political party or advocates of a particular political position does not imply that Amnesty International supports that party or candidate’s platform.