Foreign Ministers of the so-called “Five Eyes” Group, an intelligence alliance that includes the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, expressed their “deep concern” over China’s imposition of new rules to ban the elected legislators in Hong Kong, considering that Beijing’s step is part of a coordinated campaign to silence the voices criticized in Hong Kong.
The countries called on China to reconsider its measures against the elected legislative body in Hong Kong and return the Legislative Council members immediately.
The highest body in Beijing issued, Wednesday, a law that makes “patriotism” a mandatory demand for lawmakers in the former British colony, allowing the local authorities to isolate politicians and deputies without having to appear before the civil courts.
In a joint statement, the five countries considered that “Chinese law clearly violates international obligations, within the framework of the Sino-British Joint Treaty, which is documented in UN treaties.”
The statement pointed out that the Chinese decision “violates China’s commitments toward Hong Kong getting a high independence and freedom of expression”, explaining that “the deportation laws appear as part of a focused campaign aiming at silencing the opposition votes after delaying the legislative elections, which were scheduled last September”.
The 5 countries called China to ” stop the reduction of Hong Kong nation’s rights in choosing its deputies”, assuring that ” in order to prosper and settle Hong Kong, it is essential that China and Hong Kong authorities respect the channels granted to the nation to express their legitimate fears and opinions “.
In addition, the countries called on China’s central authorities to “reconsider their behavior against Hong Kong legislators and immediately retreat from removing Legislative Council members”.
Last week, 15 opposition deputies resigned collectively, after four of their colleagues were removed from Hong Kong’s parliament, failing to give satisfactory allegiance to the legislature.
On Wednesday, three former deputies from the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong were arrested for trying to block discussion of a bill that would criminalize criticism of the National anthem in the Legislative Council earlier this year.
Xu Hui, Dick, Ray Shan and Ted Hui have said in separate posts on Facebook that they had been arrested over the events of May and June.
Police confirmed that they arrested the 3 men on charge of “contempt” and “intended to harm others and try to use harmful materials”.
The final charge is to give them smelly fluids in the room in an attempt to disrupt two panel discussions on the National Anthem Act, which was eventually passed.