A HONG KONG court has rejected an appeal by two separatist lawmakers who were disqualified from office because they altered their oaths with an anti-China insult.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a judgment earlier this month barring Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching of the Youngspiration Party from office.
It agreed with the High Court’s decision two weeks ago that the pair effectively declined to take the oath, violating the semiautonomous Chinese city’s Basic Law constitution.
The three-member panel also said its ruling was backed up by Beijing’s own controversial interpretation of the Basic Law.
“There can be no innocent explanation for what they uttered and did,” the ruling said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
“What has been done was done deliberately and intentionally.”
The pair, however, can still appeal the matter at the Court of Final Appeal. According to the South China Morning Post, they have reserved a slot on Thursday at the court to have their applications for leave to appeal heard.
In October, the newly elected grassroots activists modified their oaths during the swearing-in ceremony, with one reciting the oath very slowly, and others pronouncing the word China as ‘Chee-na’, which is considered a derogatory term due to its use by the Japanese during World War II.
Two months later, Yau and Leung of the Youngspiration party – rushed into a weekly meeting at the Legislative Council chamber in an attempt to retake their oaths.
They also displayed a flag that said “Hong Kong is not China.”
The act of defiance of the two disqualified lawmakers and their pro-independence stance had angered China, which called such acts a threat to national security.
Earlier this month, high-level Beijing lawmakers effectively intervened in the political dispute by adopting an interpretation of an article in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution on oath-taking.
In issuing the interpretation, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee said talk of independence for Hong Kong is intended to “divide the country” and severely harms the country’s unity, territorial sovereignty, and national security.
The interpretation says that those who advocate for independence for Hong Kong are not only disqualified from election and from assuming posts as lawmakers, but should also be investigated for their legal obligations.
On Nov 11, Chinese president Xi Jinping, in urging unity, said any attempt to split the country will be resolutely opposed by all Chinese people.
“We’ll never allow anyone, any organization or political Party to rip out any part of our territory at any time or in any form,” he said in affirming China’s stance on secession.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press