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WATCH: Brawl Erupts In Hong Kong Parliament After Ouster Of Pro-Democracy Lawmaker
Votes are counted at the House Committee's election of chairpersons, presided by pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin Por at the Legislative Council on May 18, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Pro-democracy legislators were dragged out of the chamber by security guards as the two camps fought to control the House Committee which has been at a standstill for months.(Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s parliament broke out in chaos on Monday as security guards dragged multiple pro-democracy lawmakers out of the assembly.

A handful of Hong Kong lawmakers protested what they characterized as a coup by pro-Beijing legislators to take control of a key committee responsible for approving the bills that will be voted on by the parliament. The pro-democracy head of the House Committee, Dennis Kwok, was ousted on Friday and replaced by Starry Lee, a friend of the Chinese Communist Party, on Monday.

Tanya Chan, a legislator and member of the Civic Party with Kwok, slammed the proceedings while speaking to reporters after. Chan said pro-Beijing lawmakers instigated the ruckus to push through a bill that would criminalize tampering with or degrading China’s national anthem, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

“What happened at the meeting has subverted our past understanding of the rules of procedures, principles and existing practices. We do not wish to pass the evil law, but more importantly, we don’t wish to see the pro-establishment camp eroding the Hong Kong legislative system recklessly,” Chan said.

The House Committee, which Kwok oversaw as deputy chairman, has been without a chairman for half a year. Beijing’s supporters in the parliament accused Kwok of stonewalling new legislation and ignoring calls to elect a new chairman to the committee. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin-por was tapped to preside over Monday’s election and was ultimately responsible for removing Kwok from his committee position.

Pro-democracy lawmakers protested during the election, attempting to surround Kin-por’s chair at the head of the assembly with a black banner. Security guards that had formed a barrier around Kin-por’s table held back the pro-democracy lawmakers and eventually escorted and carried at least five lawmakers out of the room. At least one legislator was injured in the scuffle, according to The Associated Press.

Other pro-democracy legislators and protesters held up signs saying “Abuse of Power” and “CCP tramples HK legislature.”

Legislator Lam Cheuk Ting tore pages from the parliament’s rule handbook to signify the CCP-friendly lawmakers destroying the rules and procedures of the Hong Kong governing body, according to The New York Times. Lee was elected to chair the House Committee by a unanimous vote after the pro-democracy legislators were removed from the room.

When the “pro-establishment camp don’t like something, they will do whatever it takes, including breaking the system that we have and the rules that we have,” Kwok said, according to the Times. “The price of freedom is constant vigilance.”

The Monday brawl in Hong Kong’s parliament is the second this month. A similar scuffle broke out on May 8 after pro-democracy lawmakers fought to keep Lee from taking control of the House Committee. The protest turned violent then, as well, and one pro-democracy legislator had to be evacuated from the chamber on a stretcher.

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