Like in Hong Kong, Macau’s pro-democracy leaders come under attack
Pro-democracy activists fear being investigated for supporting political pluralism. Local authorities banned 21 pro-democracy candidates from running for the local parliament. EU’s condemnation of the crackdown in Macau elicits China's usual response. Free voices like Steve Vines and Kacey Wong flee Hong Kong.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Like in neighbouring Hong Kong, Macau authorities have targeted pro-democracy activists.
In an interview published today by the Hong Kong Free Press, Scott Chiang says he fears he will come under investigation for supporting political pluralism.
Chang is one of 21 pro-democracy candidates excluded from the 12 September elections for the renewal of the Macau Legislative Assembly.
Last Saturday, the Court of Appeal confirmed the ban of 15 pro-democracy candidates who had appealed against their exclusion.
In early July, the Macau Electoral Affairs Commission had disqualified them without the possibility of challenging its decision.
The Commission decided that 21 candidates were "ineligible" because they had violated Macau’s Basic Law, and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. The former Portuguese colony come under the sovereignty of the People's Republic of China in 1999.
What is more, Macau police have accused the disqualified candidates of having ties with pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong, of participating in a 4 June vigil for the Tiananmen massacre in the former British colony, of visiting Taiwan during the last presidential elections, and of commemorating Nobel laureate dissident Liu Xiaobo.
According to the Court, the 21 pro-democracy leaders made “provocative" and "libellous” statements that challenged the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and expressed opposition to the "one country, two systems" principle, which is the basis of the limited autonomy of Macau and Hong Kong.
The exclusion drew immediate protests from abroad. The European Union asked Macau authorities to guarantee the rights and freedoms of candidates across the political spectrum.
In a statement, the EU noted that ban is a harmful step that goes against the local Basic Law, because it undermines political pluralism and limits democratic debate.
In its standard response, the Chinese central government said that China “does not tolerate interference from any foreign forces.”
Macau is now going through what Hong Kong experienced last year. The recent “patriotic” election reform imposed on the former British colony squashed any chances of victory the pro-democracy camp may have had.
In addition, more than a hundred pro-democracy activists have been arrested for alleged offences against national security; more than 60 of them are awaiting trial, including such figures as Jimmy Lai, Benny Tai and Joshua Wong, who have been in prison for months.
Hong Kong’s political climate has "deteriorated” so much that many free voices have decided to leave the city.
The latter expression highlights how the security law is being used to target the media and terrorise the population.
Kacey Wong, a famous Hong Kong artist, left the city for Taiwan. On a Facebook post he wrote that he wanted to live in a place where he could enjoy “100 per cent freedom”.