A decision to block Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong from standing in a district council election has been described as political censorship by a Catholic justice group. The campaigner and secretary-general of the Demosisto party is the only one out of 1,100 candidates to be disqualified from the Nov. 24 poll because of his political stance. Returning officer Laura Liang Aron ruled he had not changed his former position on independence for the Chinese-ruled territory. The decision not only sets a bad example of political censorship but also worsens the already shrinking freedom of speech in Hong Kong, Jackie Hung, project officer of the Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong Diocese, told ucanews on Oct. 30. “It’s very clear that banning Joshua Wong from the district council election is a political gesture,” said Hung, adding that the government decision shows the public that Hong Kong people do not enjoy the right to elect and to be elected. Established in 2016, Demosisto is a pro-democracy organization advocating self-determination for Hong Kong.
Wong, 23, had been repeatedly requested by the electoral officer to explain his political views on democratic self-determination since he submitted his nomination on Oct 4. The right to vote and the right to stand for election as well as universal suffrage are provisions promised in the Basic Law, which was set up when the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997. “Our rights now are based only on the conditions and rules set by the government, not the law,” said Hung, adding that people are not allowed even to express or share their views on the possibility of independence, even just for the sake of discussion. The letter from the election officer to Wong states that the activist still holds the idea of a non-binding referendum on self-determination, with independence as one option. It states that the option of independence in such a referendum is “incompatible with the Basic Law and the status of Hong Kong as a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China.” Wong told media on Oct. 29 after being informed of his “invalid” nomination that It proves how Beijing is manipulating the election with political censorship and screening. “I was targeted by the central government. They treated me as the leader of Hong Kong independence, so the election officer had no choice but to ban me. It’s called ‘Execute one as a warning to a hundred’,” he said. The activist fought against Beijing’s interference in the education system in 2012 before joining the Umbrella Movement of 2014 seeking genuine democracy. Pro-democracy groups are calling on all eligible voters, especially youngsters, to participate in the upcoming election to exercise their civil rights on top of the ongoing protests as a means to achieve democratic reform. Beijing authorities and state-owned media have accused Wong of being a pro-independence radical taking financial aid from the United States.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...