22 pro-democracy lawmakers on Monday afternoon issued a joint statement condemning Junius Ho’s call to “kill” those advocating Hong Kong independence.

At an anti-independence rally on Sunday, rural leader Tsang Shu-wo said that pro-independence activists should be “killed,” and Ho shouted “without mercy” in response. He later also said: “If those who are pro-independence lead to the subversion of the fate of the country… why shouldn’t these people be killed?”

junius ho
Junius Ho at a rally on Sunday calling for Benny Tai to be sacked from HKU.

The remarks came after pro-independence banners emerged at universities across the city, sparking heated debates. The heads of ten universities issued a joint statement last Friday, which said: “We treasure freedom of expression, but we condemn its recent abuses.” The student unions of 12 higher education institutions soon issued a counter statement in a similar format.

“The statements are cold-blooded and directly advocate violence,” the pro-democracy legislators said in response to Ho’s remarks, adding that they could constitute a violation of the law. “We strongly condemn this.”

“Ho, as a legislator and lawyer, expressed hate speech involving murder at a public event, crossing the bottom lines of free speech and morality and severely breaching professional conduct.”

The statement also cited sections 17B and 26 of the Public Order Ordinance, which respectively criminalise causing disorder in public places and proposing violence at public gatherings.

benny tai rally
A pro-Beijing rally calling for Benny Tai to be sacked on Sunday.

“The police previously arrested individuals who made expressions of hate speech. We believe that Junius Ho’s acts have violated the law, and the police and Department of Justice should treat everyone equally and take relevant action.”

Asked about the calls to “kill” independence advocates on Monday, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen responded that whether certain conduct or comments constituted a criminal offence would depend on the overall meaning and context, rather than individual words.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.