Bipartisan Group of US Lawmakers Nominates Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement for Nobel Peace Prize

February 5, 2020 Updated: February 5, 2020
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WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has nominated Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2020 to recognize the “countless and often anonymous individuals [who] risked their lives, their health, their jobs, and their education to support a better future for Hong Kong.”

“This prize would honor the millions of people in Hong Kong whose bravery and determination have inspired the world,” the lawmakers told the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in a letter published on Feb. 4.

The letter was co-signed by U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern (D-Mass.) and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chairman and co-chairman, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), along with six other senators and representatives.

The lawmakers nominated the pro-democracy movement in recognition of the efforts of Hongkongers to protect the city’s autonomy, human rights, and the rule of law as guaranteed in the Sino-British Declaration and Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

In March 2019, a series of large-scale, pro-democracy protests began in Hong Kong in opposition to a proposed extradition bill that would have put people in Hong Kong at risk of extradition to mainland China, where arbitrary detention, lack of due process, torture, and other serious human rights abuses have been documented.

The protest on June 16, 2019, was one the largest mass demonstrations in history, drawing more than 2 million participants out of around 7.5 million people living in Hong Kong. The protesters came from a broad spectrum of Hongkongers, including students, retirees, women, teachers, flight attendants, bankers, lawyers, social workers, entrepreneurs, medical professionals, migrant domestic workers, and civil servants.

“The entire city is engaged in a movement both unique and inspiring in its size, scope, and creativity,” the letter states. “The protesters are savvy and have used peaceful and innovative methods of expression including art, music, lasers, projections on buildings, and joining hands across Hong Kong.”

The pro-democracy movement made five demands of the Hong Kong government, which the letter characterizes as “reasonable”: 1. withdraw the extradition bill; 2. conduct an independent inquiry into the police violence; 3. drop charges against all arrested protesters; 4. retract the characterization of the June protests as “riots”; and 5. the use of universal suffrage to elect the chief executive and legislative council members.

In October 2019, Norwegian Parliament member Guri Melby nominated the people of Hong Kong for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

As with Melby’s nomination, the U.S. lawmakers chose not to highlight individuals. They point out, “The pro-democracy movement of the past year has been impressively organized and coherent, yet notably leaderless and flexible.”