It is very heartening that twelve United States lawmakers nominated Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow and the Umbrella Movement for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination comes at a time when the pro-democracy movement is under sustained attack by the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong government. Their primary means of attack are criminal prosecutions of pro-democracy leaders and activists and disqualifications from candidacy and elected office. Through these means, they have barred all groups which grew out of the Umbrella Movement from participating in the formal political system and are attempting to destroy the groups they find the most threatening. They intend especially to intimidate young people against getting involved in politics, in the classic Communist ploy of “killing the chicken to scare the monkeys.”
All three of the leaders singled out in the nomination were sentenced to prison (Joshua to 9 months in two different cases, Alex to seven, and Nathan to eight) in relation to their role in occupying Civic Square on September 26, 2014, triggering the start of the Umbrella Movement two days later. On February 6, their prison sentences were overturned by the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, nearly two years after the trial began on February 29, 2016. Joshua is now awaiting the appeal hearing of his other, three-month prison sentence. In addition, Nathan was disqualified from the Legislative Council along with five other pro-democracy lawmakers after having won the seats in the only democratic elections Hong Kong had.
It was especially gratifying that the US lawmakers praised the nominees for, among other things, fighting for self-determination in the very same week that the pro-democracy candidate for the Hong Kong Island Legislative Council by-election in March, Agnes Chow, was barred from running on the grounds that she and her party, Demosistō, advocate self-determination. She was seeking to fill the seat left vacant by the disqualification of Nathan. Self-determination is in fact a basic human right. According to the Hong Kong government, it does not comply with the Basic Law even though the international treaties which guarantee it are enshrined in the Basic Law.