Newly elected lawmaker Nathan Law (C) stands next to fellow lawmaker Eddie Chu as he gestures towards a clerk after taking his oath of office at the first meeting of the sixth Legislative Council in Hong Kong on October 12, 2016. (Photos by AFP)
Hong Kong’s pro-independence lawmakers have mangled their oath of office, which describes the city as part of China.
The pro-independence candidates won seats in Hong Kong's Legislative Council election in September.
Lawmakers are supposed to start their mandate by swearing an oath to uphold the constitution, which describes Hong Kong as a "special administrative region" of China.
Hong Kong is governed under a "one country, two systems" arrangement - a deal made when the city was handed back to China after about a century of British colonial rule in 1979. The agreement protects Hong Kong's freedoms and partial autonomy for 50 years.
Beijing had earlier warned the members of parliament that "any person who declines or neglects to take an oath duly requested which he or she is required to take shall vacate office or be disqualified from entering on it."
Nathan Law, a former leader of the 2014 Umbrella Movement rallies, began his oath-taking by quoting India's independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.
"You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body - but you can never imprison my mind," he said Wednesday.
The Umbrella Movement was created during the 2014 protests that erupted after the Chinese government introduced an election law, under which the people of Hong Kong will have to elect their next leader from a list of Beijing-vetted candidates in 2017.
While reciting the oath, Law changed his tone each time he referred to China and converted the statement into a question.
Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching prefaced their oaths with a pledge to serve the "Hong Kong nation", displaying flags that read, "Hong Kong is not China".
Newly elected lawmaker Yau Wai-ching prepares to display a flag that reads "Hong Kong is not China" before taking her oath of office at the first meeting of the sixth Legislative Council in Hong Kong on October 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Leung mispronounced the word "China", calling it instead "Cheena".
Yau also appeared to insert an insult in her oath. She, however, denied the allegation and blamed her accent.
"Democratic self-determination! Tyranny will perish!" shouted new lawmaker Eddie Chu, another lawmaker who calls for independence for Hong Kong through a referendum, after his swearing-in.
Lau Siu-lai, another Umbrella Movement activist, paused for a few seconds after reciting each word of the oath.
The legislative clerk rejected the oaths of three pro-independence lawmakers, including Leung and Yau, as they changed the wording of their oaths.
According to government rules, the clerk will refer the cases of the three MPs to the council’s president, due to be elected later Wednesday, to decide whether or not to prevent them from taking up their seats.
The session was suspended after Law refused to return to his seat, questioning why the clerk had rejected his fellow lawmakers' oaths.

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