Seven opposition lawmakers expelled from Hong Kong Legislative Council
Beijing, May 8 (efe-epa).- Seven lawmakers of the pro-democratic opposition of Hong Kong were expelled from the Legislative Council on Friday after staging a fight with pro-government parliamentarians.
According to the South China Morning Post, both parties got into a heated discussion while deciding who should be in charge of the council’s House Committee, a panel that has been blocked for months and is responsible for examining bills before sending them to a final vote.
The newspaper said pro-government deputy Starry Lee Wai-king ran to the presidential podium while dodging members of the opposition after finishing another meeting.
Her allies surrounded her to protect her as security guards tried to prevent the pandemocrats from approaching.
Then, the opposition group began singing chants denouncing an alleged “abuse of power” while refusing to take their seats.
Lee said she was authorized to preside over the meeting by the president of the chamber, who warned pro-democratic legislators they were violating the regulations and finally ordered the expulsion of seven of them.
One of the expelled legislators, Andrew Wan Siu-kin, injured his back and was taken to hospital in an ambulance, according to the newspaper.
The confrontation began after the opposition announced it was going to block the proposed agenda for the day, arguing the election of a new president for the House committee was necessary.
Lee said she would chair a meeting to handle “urgent or special issues” that could include, according to the newspaper, a controversial bill that imposes prison terms of up to three years for anyone who does not respect the Chinese national anthem, a move that has sparked controversy, protests and fears about freedom of expression in the former British colony.
The brawl comes at a time of tension between the two factions and after authorities in Hong Kong stepped up their efforts to pressure dissent.
Since the protests began in March 2019, numerous activists and prominent figures in the pro-democracy movement have been detained or fined, and in mid-April local police arrested at least 14 activists for allegedly organizing unauthorized protests over the past year.
China warned on Wednesday that “there will be no peace in Hong Kong until the violence ends” and assured that it will not stop until the protests that shook the city and came to a halt due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Pro-democratic movement supporters previously said that they would return to the streets after the end of the health crisis and on May 1 they held several rallies until they were dispersed by the local police.
The protests in Hong Kong began in opposition to a controversial extradition bill – already withdrawn – which, according to lawyers and activists, could have allowed Beijing to gain access to refugees in the former British colony.
These protests have mobilized hundreds of thousands of people since June and caused serious clashes with the police, accused of abusing authority to deter protests. EFE-EPA