- Title: Hong Kong lawyers march to condemn China's legal "interference"
- Date: 8th November 2016
- Summary: HONG KONG, CHINA (NOVEMBER 8, 2016) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF LAWYERS DRESSED IN BLACK OUTSIDE HONG KONG HIGH COURT VARIOUS OF POLICE OFFICERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIVIC PARTY LAWMAKER AND BARRISTER, DENNIS KWOK, SAYING: "It is also wrong, because it is an attempt to interpret local domestic legislation, which is not the role of the National People's Congress." VARIOUS OF LAWYERS DRESSED IN BLACK SILENTLY MARCHING STREETS FEET OF MARCHING LAWYERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) BARRISTER, ANDREW RAFFELL, SAYING: "I do fear for young people here. Until last year I taught at the Chinese University, a lot of my students supported occupy, they were rational, they were reasonable, they were well argued, they were polite and they were stigmatized and attacked by old men who should know better and old women who should know better." VARIOUS OF LAWYERS MAKING THEIR WAY FROM HONG KONG HIGH COURT IN SILENCE REPORTERS WAITING IN LEGCO (Legislative Council of Hong Kong) HALLWAY PRO-INDEPENDENCE LAWMAKER, YAU WAI-CHING WALKING DOWN HALLWAY LEGISLATORS OFFICE SIGN READING "Hon Yau Wai-ching" (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRO-INDEPENDENCE LAWMAKER, YAU WAI-CHING, SAYING: "I can only say the reason behind the entire incident is because Andrew Leung (Legislative Council President) won't let us into the chamber. It's unreasonable for them not to let us take our seat in the chamber. We cannot accept this." DOOR TO PRO-INDEPENDENCE LAWMAKER'S OFFICE PRO-INDEPENDENCE LAWMAKER, YAU CLOSING DOOR VARIOUS OF SECURITY GUARDS KNOCKING STANDING AT YAU'S OFFICE DOOR BEIJING, CHINA (NOVEMBER 8, 2016) (REUTERS) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN, LU KANG WALKING IN FOR BRIEFING MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES SEATING (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN LU KANG SAYING: "We hope and urge relevant countries to honour their open commitments, speak and act cautiously in this issue and not to intervene into Hong Kong's internal affairs, not to provide any support to any Hong Kong independence forces." NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS EXTERIOR OF CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY CHINESE NATIONAL FLAG FLYING
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2016 14:12
- Keywords: legislators ban basic law China protest
- Location: BEIJING AND HONG KONG, CHINA
- City: BEIJING AND HONG KONG, CHINA
- Country: Hong Kong
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00157L2L39
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hundreds of Hong Kong lawyers dressed in black marched through the heart of the city in silence on Tuesday (November 8) to condemn a move by China that effectively bars two elected pro-independence lawmakers from taking their seats in the legislature.
The former British colony returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement that ensured its freedoms, including a separate legal system. But Beijing has ultimate control and some Hong Kong people are concerned it is increasingly interfering to head off dissent.
Local and foreign lawyers walked from the High Court to the Court of Final Appeal, underscoring growing concern among Hong Kong's legal elite with how Beijing has handled affairs in the "special administrative region" of Communist Party-ruled China.
The demonstration follows a decision by China's parliament to interpret Hong Kong's mini-constitution, or Basic Law, to effectively bar the independence lawmakers from taking their oaths of office.
"It is also wrong, because it is an attempt to interpret local domestic legislation, which is not the role of the National People's Congress," said legislator and barrister Dennis Kwok, who organized the rally, adding that they would not accept interpretation becoming the norm.
"I do fear for young people here. Until last year I taught at the Chinese University, a lot of my students supported occupy, they were rational, they were reasonable, they were well argued, they were polite and they were stigmatized and attacked by old men who should know better and old women who should know better," Barrister Andrew Raffell said.
Beijing's ruling on Monday (November 7) that oaths for Hong Kong lawmakers must be taken accurately, sincerely and solemnly for them to be valid, just as a local judicial review of the case was under way, rattled many in the legal profession, political circles and beyond.
The two politicians - Yau Wai-ching, 25, and Baggio Leung, 30 - displayed a "Hong Kong is not China" banner and used a derogatory word for China during a swearing in ceremony as Legislative Council members in October.
They were not sworn in and the city's chief executive filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against them getting another chance.
Hong Kong's High Court struck down that request but approved a judicial review hearing over the pair's membership of the legislature, which began on Thursday (November 3).
The march was only the fourth such protest by the city's lawyers since 1997.
The last march, in June 2014, was in response to a white paper by China's cabinet that declared "loving the country" was a basic political requirement for all Hong Kong administrators, including judges and judicial personnel.
Hong Kong has thrived as a financial and legal center thanks in part to its independent rule of law, which many now perceive to be under threat.
The Standing Committee has interpreted the Basic Law four times since the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997, including once when neither the city government nor its courts requested it.
Once taboo, calls for self-determination and independence have risen in the territory since the 79 day struggle in late 2014 when tens of thousands took to the streets for 79 days of protests against reforms that failed to deliver full democracy for leadership.
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