Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Nominate Six Champions of Hong Kong’s Human Rights for Nobel Peace Prize

(Washington, DC)— Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the Chair and Cochair, respectively, of the bicameral and bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), former Chairs of the Commission, today announced their nomination of six Hong Kongers for the Nobel Peace Prize. Jimmy Lai, Cardinal Joseph Zen, Tonyee Chow Hang-tung, Gwyneth Ho, Lee Cheuk-Yan and Joshua Wong were nominated because they are ardent champions of Hong Kong’s autonomy, human rights, and the rule of law as guaranteed under the Sino-British Declaration and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The nominees are representative of millions of Hong Kongers who peacefully opposed the steady erosion of the city’s democratic freedoms by the Hong Kong government and the government of the People’s Republic of China. Through the nomination, the Members of Congress seek to honor all those in Hong Kong whose bravery and determination in the face of repression has inspired the world.

Brief information about the Nobel Peace Prize nominees:

Jimmy Lai Chee-ying (黎智英), founder of a pro-democracy newspaper and prominent government critic. The newspaper was forced to shut down after Hong Kong police raided the newspaper’s headquarters, arrested senior executives and editors, and froze its bank accounts under the pretense of  “national security.”

Joseph Zen Ze-kiun (陳日君), a Catholic cardinal and staunch supporter of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. He was arrested and later found guilty on charges related to his leadership role in setting up a fund intended to provide humanitarian and legal assistance to those detained in connection with the pro-democracy movement that began in 2019.

Tonyee Chow Hang-tung (鄒幸彤), a licensed barrister and vice-chair of a now-shuttered civil society group. Authorities charged and convicted her for inciting others to join annual vigils commemorating the mass killings during the pro-democracy Tiananmen protests in 1989.

Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lam (何桂藍), a journalist who live-streamed and was herself injured in a July 2019 mob attack in which the police’s delayed response led to widespread accusations of collusion between authorities and gang members. She is being detained on a national security charge for peacefully participating in an opinion poll ahead of an election.

Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人), a veteran labor rights advocate and former legislator. He has been sentenced for joining unauthorized assemblies and is facing additional criminal allegations on national security grounds.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung (黃之鋒), an advocate for universal suffrage who had organized successful movements to resist erosion of cultural and political autonomy in Hong Kong. Wong was previously imprisoned in connection with protests during the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Upon his release in June 2019, he joined protests to resist a bill that could authorize extradition of criminal defendants from Hong Kong to mainland China. He has been sentenced for joining unauthorized assemblies and is being charged with a national security offense.

Additional information about political prisoners in Hong Kong can be found on the CECC’s Political Prisoner Database.