A Norwegian lawmaker has nominated the Hong Kong people for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to commend them for “fighting for fundamental rights.”
“What they do matters far beyond Hong Kong itself, both in the region and in the rest of the world,” Guri Melby, an Oslo-based Parliament member from the Liberal Party of Norway, said in an Oct. 16 press release.
City-wide demonstrations in Hong Kong, now entering the 19th week, began with mass opposition against an extradition bill but have since shifted to calls for greater democracy, the rule of law, and basic freedoms in the face of growing Chinese Communist Party influence.
“That fight deserves the Nobel Peace Prize,” Melby said.
Melby was barred from entering the Norwegian parliament in May for wearing yellow T-shirts emblazoned with the word “freedom,” in Norwegian and mandarin Chinese, during a high-profile visit from Chinese official Li Zhanshu, who is head of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress.
— Venstre (@Venstre) May 15, 2019
She said she hoped the move will further encourage the movement as Hongkongers “risk their lives and security every day to stand up for freedom of speech and basic democracy.”
Melby said she chose to nominate the entire population of Hong Kong rather than an individual since the demonstrations have no clear leadership and most of the sporadic decisions take place on social media and online discussion groups.
“The international community must show that we also stand up for these principles and acknowledges their struggles,” she wrote in the nomination text. “Their contribution to peace is considerable.”
Melby visited Hong Kong in late September, during which she met with local pro-democracy lawmakers and activists, including Democratic Party member Ted Hui, who was detained for obstructing police after he tried to persuade them to release a couple during a September protest. He told Melby that he was held for almost 40 hours in relation to the protests.
I forrige uke ble han arrestert av politiet da han stod fremst blant demonstrantene. I dag møtte jeg Ted Hui her i Hongkong, folkevalgt for Venstres søsterparti The Democratic Party. Vi snakket om hvorfor folket tar til gatene mot myndighetene, og desperasjonen mange føler på. pic.twitter.com/AAI35sDtPI
— Guri Melby (@gurimelby) September 23, 2019
Melby said that she was “appalled by the stories of police brutality and impressed by the courage of the protesters.”
On the night of Aug. 31, police rushed into metro stations and struck passengers with batons, sprayed tear gas and pepper spray, leaving many people bleeding on the head. The incident has fueled anger toward police on top of the existing public concerns that the police were exacerbating tensions with unnecessary violence.
“Police violence escalates and gets worse, politicians are arrested and attacked and confidence in the authorities is destroyed,” Melby wrote in a Sept. 26 tweet with a photo of her standing in front of the Prince Edward metro station, where protesters had set up a make-shift memorial for the incident.
Jeg har vært i Hongkong denne uka hvor en kritisk situasjon blir stadig verre. Politivolden eskalerer og blir grovere, politikere arresteres og angripes og tilliten til myndighetene er ødelagt. Her fra Pince Edward Station, der politiet angrep passasjerer med batonger 31/8. Forts pic.twitter.com/foevVMfgrX
— Guri Melby (@gurimelby) September 26, 2019
Many Hongkongers believe protesters died from police abuse at the station that night, but police have vehemently denied the rumors.
“I wish all the people I met in Hong Kong, and everyone else, to remain safe,” she said.
Last year, a dozen U.S. congressional members nominated Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow for a Nobel Peace Prize. They rose to prominence for their involvement in the 2014 Umbrella Movement, during which tens of thousands of young protesters staged sit-ins calling for universal suffrage.
The U.S. Congress approved three bipartisan bills supporting Hong Kong activists on Oct. 15, which would place economic pressure on Hong Kong and Beijing authorities, ban weapon exports to Hong Kong police, and issue sanctions to punish officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong.
“These measures serve as a reminder that America stands with those who stand for freedom,” Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in an Oct. 15 press release following the bills’ passing. He said he hoped the bill could serve as an inspiration to people in Hong Kong and worldwide “who are forced to fight for basic human rights.”