A Norwegian member of parliament has nominated the people of Hong Kong for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize, saying that it was to encourage the international community to support the city’s fight for freedom of speech and democracy, symbolised by the ongoing protests initially sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill. Guri Melby, 38, an MP from Oslo and a Liberal Party politician, announced the nomination on Tuesday night. “I have nominated the people of Hong Kong, who risk their lives and security every day to stand up for freedom of speech and basic democracy, to the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020,” Melby said on Twitter. “I hope this will be further encouragement to the movement: #StandWithHongKong.” In an email response to the Post’s queries, Melby said: “I chose to nominate the people of Hong Kong, more specifically the (anti-)extradition bill movement, because it is the democracy movement in its entirety which deserves recognition for its brave efforts.” “I realise that the government of Hong Kong has tried to paint protesters as violent hooligans, but my impression from the streets of Hong Kong is that these are ordinary people, protesting against a city government bent on curtailing their freedoms,” said Melby who visited Hong Kong last month. Asked about the violence and vandalism by radicals on the front lines of the protests, she said she was more “appalled” by the “heavy-handed methods” police were employing. “Although I left Hong Kong with a heavy heart, knowing that the people will have tough times ahead defending their freedoms, I was reassured by their unflinching commitment to the rule of law, freedom of the press and democracy,” she told the Post. “I hope this peace prize nomination helps to reverberate that message from the people of Hong Kong to the rest of the world.” This is Hong Kong’s second peace prize nomination; the first was in 2018 when a group of 12 United States’ congressmen, known for their criticisms of China, nominated three Hong Kong activists and Occupy leaders including Joshua Wong Chi-fung. Four months of protests: how peaceful mass marches escalated to intense violence According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, qualified nominators include members of national assemblies and national governments, university professors and rectors, former peace prize winners and directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes. Melby’s tweet had attracted some 1,900 comments and nearly 3,500 retweets by around 7.30pm on Wednesday, with mainly thank-you messages from supporters of the “Stand with Hong Kong” movement. “Thank you for the support from Norway! It is our pleasure to have your nomination. We will keep fighting for freedom and justice. Please continue to #StandWithHongKong,” a Twitter user named “Raptor Buzz” commented. Melby met pro-democracy lawmaker Charles Peter Mok when she was in Hong Kong in late September. Mok said she also met ordinary people, legislators and businessmen during her visit, and was briefed about the background of the extradition bill and political system in Hong Kong, as well as the reasons behind the anti-government protests. Mok said Melby mentioned during their meeting that she was eligible to make the Nobel nomination, and he encouraged her to do it. “We thought that in addition to being an encouragement to the millions of Hong Kong people who participated in the movement, it will also be a reminder for us all on the importance of maintaining a peaceful struggle for the world to see, so they can continue to support us,” he said. “So we particularly hope that the nomination can bring out such an effect, and I can see that Guri did mention that point in her tweet/Facebook message.” However, lawmaker and New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee ridiculed the nomination, calling it “a very sick joke”. “The rendition of the fugitive offenders amendment legislation is not ‘evil’. Martin Lee and the pan-dems urged me to reach an agreement with Beijing on rendition of fugitive offenders back in 1998, ” said Ip, who served as security minister from 1998 to 2003. She was referring to the scrapped extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions that Hong Kong did not have an agreement with. “Secondly, although the protesters' motivations might have been totally unexceptionable, the protests have morphed into a highly destructive movement damaging Hong Kong. Not something we are proud of,” Ip said. The protests have morphed into a highly destructive movement damaging Hong Kong. Not something we are proud of New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Each year, Nobel laureates will be selected by the Oslo-based Norwegian Nobel Committee. Winners will be announced in October, with the awards ceremony in December. From 1901 to 2019, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 100 times to 134 Nobel laureates, including 107 individuals and 27 organisations. This year, the committee awarded the prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his peacemaking efforts with Eritrea, from among more than 300 nominations. On Wednesday morning, Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok from the department of government and international studies at Baptist University, said on social media that he and Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun promoted the “Stand with Hong Kong” movement at a forum in Prague. “We stand in solidarity with Hong Kong’s fight for their freedoms and rights as the city has found itself engulfed by an unprecedented governance crisis,” their statement said. “We close by urging the international community to stand with Hong Kong and support the people of Hong Kong in the face of an increasingly oppressive environment.” In Washington, the US House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that could pave the way for diplomatic action and economic sanctions against the Hong Kong government, a move which was also acclaimed by pro-democracy protesters as part of the “Stand With Hong Kong” movement.