Pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers voted Thursday to reject a bill that would have allowed Hong Kong’s leader to be elected by the general public. After a lengthy debate, 28 legislators voted against [AP report] the proposal, enough to defeat the measure. The Chinese government, which had supported the legislation, said it was disappointed in the vote [Xinhua report], but opponents said the bill still gave the central Chinese government too much control over the process.
China’s human rights record has garnered international attention for the government’s treatment of the growing civil rights movement [JURIST op-ed] in the country, led by a number of prominent rights activists and attorneys. In September, the Hong Kong police department cleared [JURIST report] the main government compound of pro-democracy supporters who occupied the area in protest. Last June, a Chinese court denied bail [JURIST report] to prominent human rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, who is likely to be indicted in the country’s attempt to deter growing legal activism. Pu was detained [JURIST report] last month for “causing a disturbance” after he attended a weekend meeting that urged an investigation into the 1989 crackdown of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Many believe that the government’s actions against Pu are intended to set an example, in hopes of silencing the growing dissonance and social activism amongst lawyers in China. Last May Chinese officials in the western region of Xinjiang held a public rally [JURIST report] at a sports stadium for the mass sentencing of criminals. While three of the 55 sentenced were convicted for crimes including “violent terrorism,” other prisoners’ crimes ranged from separatism to participation in terrorism groups.