Two Norwegian parliamentarians have nominated Hong Kong’s veteran pro-democracy leader Martin Lee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Members of the Norwegian Conservative Party Mathilde Tybring-Gjedde and Peter Frolich said in a statement on Monday they hoped the move will “be a source of inspiration for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and advocates for freedom around the world.”

Martin Lee at the 30th anniversary vigil of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Known as Hong Kong’s “Father of Democracy,” the barrister has spent decades championing greater freedoms in Hong Kong. He became founding chairman of the city’s first pro-democracy party the United Democrats of Hong Kong in 1990 during the British colonial era, and also led its successor the Democratic Party. He served in the city’s legislature for over two decades.

“Martin Lee Chu-ming has pursued every avenue for over 40 years that has been at his disposal for the aim of securing freedom and safety for the people of Hong Kong,” said Tybring-Gjedde. “He has devoted his life to the cause.”

Before 1997, the London-trained barrister was involved in discussions on the terms of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule and served on the drafting committee for the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

“As a politician and member of the legal profession, [Lee] fought for a democratic constitution in Hong Kong before and after the 1997 handover,” Frolich said. “He has worked peacefully for democratic institutions, free elections by universal suffrage, and political and civil rights, even in the face of mounting pressure from mainland China.”

Photo: Wikicommons.

“[He] is an inspiration to all who seek democratic development and political transition – in Hong Kong and elsewhere,” the parliamentarian added.

The 82-year-old was a fixture at the city’s peaceful pro-democracy marches before and after Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule. He was arrested with 14 other pro-democracy figures last April over an unauthorised assembly in August 2019 and is currently on bail awaiting trial.

Commenting on his arrest at the time, he said he had “no regrets” and was “proud to walk the road of democracy” with young people detained over the 2019 anti-extradition protests.

The Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presents the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10 each year. Since 1901, it has been awarded to 107 individuals and 28 organisations.

A prominent pro-democracy activist known as “Grandma Wong” and Hong Kong Free Press have also been nominated for the honour.

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Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.