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SINO DAILY
Anti-Beijing Hong Kong lawmakers disqualified from parliament
By Elaine YU
Hong Kong (AFP) July 14, 2017


Former Nobel chairman stands by Liu award after China criticism
Oslo (AFP) July 14, 2017 - The former chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday justified awarding Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo with the 2010 peace prize which Beijing slammed as "blasphemy".

"The struggle for Human Rights is peace building," Thorbjorn Jagland, who is still a member of the Nobel committee, said on Twitter.

"That's why the Committee I chaired awarded #Liu Xiaobo the Peace Price (sic)," he added.

The prominent democracy advocate died aged 61 in China on Thursday while still in custody following a battle with cancer.

Liu, a former figurehead of the 1989 democratic movement of Tiananmen Square, was honoured with the Nobel peace prize for "his long nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China".

Liu was not able to attend the Nobel award ceremony in Oslo in 2010 as he was serving an 11-year prison sentence for allegedly "attempting to undermine political order".

The former head of the Nobel committee placed that year's peace prize on an empty chair to honour Liu.

Liu became the first Nobel Peace laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital while held by the Nazis in 1938.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman on Friday said that awarding the Nobel peace prize to Liu "goes against the purposes of this award" and is "a blasphemy".

Contacted by AFP, the Nobel Committee refused to comment. It is unclear whether Jagland's tweet was a reaction to the Chinese statement.

The current leader of the Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, who wanted to attend Liu's funeral, was not allowed to apply for a visa to China, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said.

The Chinese embassy in Oslo explained that a visa could not be granted to meet a deceased person and that it would require an invitation from either Liu's widow or relative, NRK said.

Following Liu's death on Thursday, the Nobel Committee said China was "bearing a heavy responsibility" for his "premature" death and criticised the fact that he was not able to receive "adequate medical treatment".

Germany and the United States had offered to take him in for medical care.

Activists accused Beijing of crippling Hong Kong's parliament Friday after four pro-democracy lawmakers were disqualified.

The High Court judgement is a massive blow for the democracy movement as it means the balance of power in the partially elected legislature swings further to the pro-China camp because opponents do not have enough seats to veto bills.

Former Umbrella Movement protest leader Nathan Law was among those barred in a case brought by the semi-autonomous city's Beijing-friendly government after the four changed their oaths of office to reflect frustrations with Chinese authorities.

Law was one of several rebel lawmakers to secure a foothold in parliament at citywide elections in September 2016 in what was seen as a victory for the protest movement.

But that triumph was soon jeopardised after Beijing issued a special interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution in November to insist oaths be taken in a "sincere and solemn" manner.

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

The High Court said Friday Beijing's ruling was "binding" and that the court's decision to bar the four retrospectively was not politically motivated.

Concerns China is squeezing Hong Kong have sparked calls by some activists for self-determination or even independence for the city, angering Beijing.

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

They were attending a parliamentary finance committee meeting as the judgement was issued and were asked to leave. The session was abruptly adjourned.

Law's party Demosisto condemned "the manifest interference of the Beijing government to cripple Hong Kong's legislative power".

The 24-year-old was one of the most popular candidates to win a seat, gaining 50,000 votes to make him Hong Kong's youngest ever lawmaker.

He called on protesters to gather Friday night.

"Suppression is not scary," he told reporters.

"The most scary thing is that people get used to it and are not willing to come out, to fight."

Campaign group Human Rights Watch described the judgement as a "another alarming blow" to Hong Kong's autonomy.

Amnesty International said the decision confirmed the government wanted to "silence and effectively punish" criticism of the city's political system.

- Xi's 'red line' -

The judgement comes two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping warned any challenge to Beijing's control over Hong Kong crossed a "red line" when he visited the city to mark 20 years since it was handed back to China by Britain.

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.

Two pro-independence legislators have already been disqualified by the High Court over their oaths.

The cases against them and the other four lawmakers were initiated under the previous Hong Kong administration, led by unpopular former chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

He was succeeded by Carrie Lam on July 1, who is also seen as a puppet of Beijing by critics.

The oath requires lawmakers to repeatedly describe Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of China.

Law quoted Gandhi before taking his pledge, saying: "You will never imprison my mind", and used intonation to make his oath sound like a question.

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".

Veteran activist Leung Kwok-hung raised a yellow umbrella -- a symbol of the democracy movement -- which the court said did not reflect the "importance and seriousness" of the ceremony.

Former protest leader Lau Siu-lai failed to convey the oath's proper meaning by reading her pledge at a snail's pace, the court ruled.

Edward Yiu added lines to his oath, saying he would "fight for general universal suffrage", which rendered his pledge invalid according to the judgement.

SINO DAILY
China under pressure to free dissident's widow
Shenyang, China (AFP) July 14, 2017
China faced international calls Friday to free the widow of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo after global condemnation over the Communist regime's refusal to grant the democracy champion's dying wish to leave the country. The United States and the European Union urged President Xi Jinping's government to let Liu's widow, the poet Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010, leave the countr ... read more

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