Anger And Emotion Over Disqualification Of Lawmakers

Lawmakers at the legislature just before the announcement

The high court in Hong Kong has removed four elected pro-democracy parliamentarians from the city's legislature after invalidating their oaths of office, in what is seen as the latest setback for freedom in the territory.

Party chairman, Wu Chi-wai, said the rights of lawmakers to express their views in Legco could be restricted, if rules on filibustering are tightened now that pan-democratic lawmakers have lost their veto power.

The three other legislators who were unseated, Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu, had delivered their oaths with various displays of defiance, including by reading it extremely slowly, inserting words calling for democracy and displaying props.

The court's decision comes just two weeks after the installation of pro-Beijing chief executive Carrie Lam and the visit of China's president, Xi Jinping, to mark 20 years since the territory reverted from British to Chinese rule.

Two other pro-democracy lawmakers - Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching - were ousted by the courts and Beijing in December past year.

While the former crown colony is guaranteed freedoms under the Basic Law constitution agreed as a basis for the handover, such as freedom of speech, China has rolled back some of Hong Kong's autonomy in recent years.

More than 1,000 people protested near the government offices Friday night in response to the decision.

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Fellow activist and disqualified lawmaker Leung Kwok-Hung brought a yellow umbrella to the oath-taking ceremony - a symbol of the pro-democracy movement and 2014 protests.

In issuing the verdict, judge Au, who disqualified the two pro-independence lawmakers in November, said concern about political pressure behind the verdict was "at best speculative and the conclusions are illogical".

"Political suppression is not the scariest".

"Everyone in their speeches said although it feels hopeless, we need to persist... but they can't seem to say how it's possible to stop these things from happening again", said Wong.

About 60 of supporters of the four shouted "shame" outside the court while about 30 Beijing supporters shouted "rubbish legislators, kick them out".

"It is used to excise some elected pro-democracy activists from the legislature, to rig the system further in favor of pro-Beijing politicians", she said in an email. "I had read the oath completely, and the Legislative Council approved it". Now with 24 seats - one held by a centrist lawmaker - and with four more of them facing legal battles - the opposition risks losing its veto power.

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