Hong Kong’s parliament met Thursday in the absence of all pro-democracy deputies a day after their collective resignation, which turned the region’s parliament into a pro-Chinese gathering of deputies
The resignations came at a time when an escalating crackdown by local authorities allied with the Chinese government is aimed at the pro-democracy and opposition camp.
China is carrying out a campaign to tighten its control on the former British colony, which is supposed to enjoy a independence after a year of historical demonstrations it witnessed.
The 15 pro-democracy deputies on Wednesday decided to resign in protest at the dismissal of four of their colleagues by a decision taken by one of China’s main legislative committees. It allows the removal of any deputy considered a threat to national security without resorting to court.
The pro-democracy deputy Lam Chok Ting called on Hong Kong citizens Thursday to “be ready for a very long period, in which only one voice in the society will be heard”.
“If you’re against it, you need to be prepared for more pressure,” he added.
The four deputies, who were among 12 candidates, canceled their nomination for the city’s legislative elections in late July.
The elections were supposed to be held on September 6 but were postponed for a year because of the spread of the new virus of Corona.
The resignations are the latest blow to the pro-democracy movement, which has been under constant Chinese attack after a law on national security was introduced in late June. A large number of activists were arrested and others chose to leave the area.
The law brought to an end mass demonstrations, often using violence that lasted months and shook the city last year, and contributed to the strengthening of the law significantly by the Chinese central regime’s grip on Hong Kong.
A number of pro-democracy activists condemned the law, considering it suppresses freedoms.
Hong Kong residents’ impossibility of electing their leaders and all their deputies was at the heart of the pro-democracy movement’s protests.
Since the protests began, more than 10,000 people have been arrested, while the courts are overwhelmed by the number of cases to be decided, most of them involving opposition deputies as well as figures from the pro-democracy movement.
According to critics of the law on national security, which was adopted through circumventing the Legislative Council, the text dealt a fatal blow to the principle of “one country, two systems”, which was supposed to guarantee until 2047 the unrecognized freedoms in continental China.