Move comes after China parliament passes motion allowing Hong Kong executive to expel legislators without court review.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy legislators have said they will resign from the legislature en masse after the city’s government disqualified four opposition members of the chamber on allegations of endangering national security.
The pro-democracy camp announced their decision in a news conference on Wednesday.
“Today we will resign from our positions, because our partners, our colleagues have been disqualified by the central government’s ruthless move,” said Wu Chi-wai, convener of the pro-democracy camp.
“Although we are facing a lot of difficulties in the coming future for the fight of democracy, we will never, never give up,” he said.
The disqualification of the four politicians – Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung – came after China’s parliament adopted a resolution allowing the city’s government to expel legislators deemed to be supporting Hong Kong independence, colluding with foreign forces or threatening national security, without having to go through the courts.
Wu said that the remaining 15 pro-democracy legislators in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, known as the LegCo, will hand in their resignation letters on Thursday.
The move will leave the LegCo with only pro-Beijing politicians, allowing them to pass bills favoured by China without opposition. The pro-Beijing camp already holds a majority in the mini-parliament, as only half of the 70 seats in the legislature are elected.
Earlier on Wednesday, Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, told reporters that the disqualifications were “constitutional, legal, reasonable and necessary”.
“We have doubts about their abilities to perform their duties. If they are unable to uphold the Basic Law, and to support Hong Kong, of course they are not qualified to be legislators,” she said, referring to the city’s mini-constitution.
The four politicians condemned the move at a news conference.
“In terms of legality and constitutionality, obviously from our point of view this is clearly in breach of the Basic Law and our rights to participate in public affairs, and a failure to observe due process,” said Kwok.
Earlier in the year, the four now-disqualified pro-democracy legislators were barred from running for legislative elections originally scheduled for September, prior to the government stating that it would postpone the elections by a year due to the coronavirus situation.
The four legislators later remained in their posts following the election delay.
The postponement of the vote was criticised by the pro-democracy camp as an attempt to block them from taking a majority of seats in the legislature, after they had held an unofficial pro-democracy primary participated in by over 600,000 voters to decide which candidates to field.