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‘Gravely concerned’: Canada, Five Eyes allies call on Hong Kong to hold elections

Click to play video: 'Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam delays election for 1 year, cites COVID-19 as reasoning'
Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam delays election for 1 year, cites COVID-19 as reasoning
WATCH: Hong Kong's Carrie Lam delays election for one year, cites COVID-19 as reasoning – Jul 31, 2020

Canada and its Five Eyes allies — the U.K., the U.S. New Zealand and Australia — are calling on the Hong Kong government to reinstate disqualified candidates and hold its Legislative Council elections as soon as possible.

In a joint statement issued Sunday, the countries’ foreign affairs ministers said they are “gravely concerned” by the Hong Kong government’s “unjust disqualification of candidates and disproportionate postponement of Legislative Council elections.”

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Last month, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced the Sept. 6 election for seats in the city’s legislature would be postponed for a year due to a spike in cases of the novel coronavirus.

The opposition was hoping to win a historic majority in the Legislative Council, where only half the seats are directly elected and the other half filled mostly by pro-Beijing appointees.

Read more: Hong Kong postpones elections by a year, citing spike in coronavirus cases

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What’s more, 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running, for reasons including perceived subversive intentions, opposition to a new security law and campaigning to win a legislation-blocking majority.Lam did not propose a new date, saying only that the elections would be postponed for a year.
Click to play video: 'U.S. imposes sanctions on Hong Kong officials, including Carrie Lam'
U.S. imposes sanctions on Hong Kong officials, including Carrie Lam
In the statement, the foreign affairs ministers said the moves have “undermined the democratic process that has been fundamental to Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.”“We support the legitimate expectations of the people of Hong Kong to elect Legislative Council representatives via genuinely free, fair and credible elections,” the statement reads.

Read more: 4 arrested in Hong Kong under new security law over social media posts

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“We call on the Hong Kong government to reinstate the eligibility of disqualified candidates so that the elections can take place in an environment conducive to the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Basic Law.”
Click to play video: 'Mounting concern about wider impact of China’s new security law'
Mounting concern about wider impact of China’s new security law

In the statement, the allies also expressed “deep concern” over Beijing’s imposition of the new National Security Law, which they say is “eroding the Hong Kong people’s fundamental rights and liberties.”

“Beijing promised autonomy and freedoms under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle to the Hong Kong people in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a United Nations-registered treaty, and must honour its commitments,” the statement reads.

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The sweeping legislation says anyone who takes part in secessionist activities — either organizing or participating — will be in violation of the law, regardless of whether violence is used.

Last month three males and one female between the ages of 16 and 21 were arrested under the new law on suspicion of inciting secession through social media posts.

Each of the Five Eyes member states has suspended its extradition treaties with Hong Kong over the new security law.

-With files from Reuters

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