To stand for election is a citizen’s political right!
Protest against the Hong Kong government’s
violation of democracy and the rule of law through political screening
On July 14, Hong Kong’s Electoral Affairs Commission (HKEAC) required all candidates for the Legislative Council election to file a declaration containing an oath to embrace the Basic Law and promise not to advocate nor promote independence and self-determination. This has aroused serious concern throughout Hong Kong. Recently, the HKEAC disqualified the candidacy of six people due to their political stance on Hong Kong independence and legitimacy of the Basic Law. They include pro-localist district councilor James Chan Kwok Keung, Alice Lai Yee Man of the Hong Kong-UK Reunification Campaign, Yeung Ke Cheong of the Democratic Progressive Party of Hong Kong and Edward Leung Tin Kei of the Hong Kong Indigenous. Leung has signed the declaration but the returning officer still rejected his candidacy because of the “disbelief that Leung has genuinely changed his stance on Hong Kong independence”.
We believe that the HKEAC’s decision has seriously violated the rule of law and international covenants:
1. The HKEAC has set a criterion for candidacy through its administrative act without any legal basis, de facto suppressing opposition political opinions via political screening. This clearly violates the principles of fairness and political freedom.
2. The right to stand for election should not be confined to designated political parties nor to members of such political parties. The political stance of candidates should not constitute a reason for the rejection of their candidacy. The barring of these six people from running not only deprives them of their personal right to political participation, but also jeopardizes democratic principles and the free choice of Hong Kong citizens.
3. In accordance with Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), political rights aim to protect rights to run, nominate, vote and hold public office without prejudice to race, skin colour, sex, language, religion, political and other opinions, nationality and social status, property, birthplace and other identity. Hong Kong became a signatory to the Covenant in 1976 and is obligated to continue to enforce the Covenant under the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.
Since 1997, Hong Kong has been confronted with intensifying political challenges. Political and press freedoms have been drastically curtailed. As the Hong Kong Government’s governance acutely worsens, people's discontent has intensified over time. The 2014 Umbrella Movement, where hundreds of thousands of people protested in favour of genuine universal suffrage, was a sign of the prevailing resistance. In view of the current disagreements and conflicts in society, this ruling of the HKEAC only adds fuel to the fire and will result in increased dissatisfaction towards existing institutions.
We urge the international community to closely monitor the decline of Hong Kong democracy. The Hong Kong government should immediately restore the six people’s candidacy, and stop political interference to ensure fairness in the Legislative Council election. This is essential to prevent further deterioration of freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong.
Signatories of Joint Statement:
New School for Democracy