China Underground > China News > Hong Kong pro-democracy group disbands amid police pressure

Hong Kong pro-democracy group disbands amid police pressure

Last Updated on 2021/08/16

Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) announced its closure on Sunday.

Hong Kong authorities have suggested that past rallies organized by Civil Human Rights Front may have violated the controversial National Security Law.

No members were willing to perform secretarial duties after its organizer, Figo Chan Ho-wun, 25, was jailed for 18 months during a 2019 demonstration.

The dissolution of CHRF came after several articles appeared in Chinese state media targeting organizations.

Civil Human Rights Front in the past had counted many political parties among its members and was an important presence during protests in the former British colony.

It was responsible for organizing the annual July 1 protests until authorities began denying permission to hold demonstrations, citing the coronavirus.

“In the course of over a year, the government continuously used the pandemic as a reason to reject the demonstration applications of CHRF and other groups – each member group was oppressed, and civil society was facing unprecedented challenges,” CHRF said in a note reported by local media.

Figo Chan was jailed in May along with other high-profile Hong Kong activists Lee Cheuk-yan, Jimmy Lai, Albert Ho, and Leung “Long Hair” Kwok-hung for their involvement in an Oct. 1, 2019 protest, one of the hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrations held in Hong Kong that year but which coincided with China’s National Day.

That protest saw violent clashes and chaos in the streets, with police using tear gas and water cannons against protesters, some of whom threw Molotov cocktails and lit fires. An 18-year-old student was shot at point-blank range by a police officer.

The disbandment came just days after the police chief suggested that past rallies organized by CHRF may have violated the National Security Act, despite CHRF obtaining permits and repeated assurances from authorities that the 13-month-old law is not retroactive.

Police have been investigating the CHRF’s finances since April, and on Sunday the South China Morning Post quoted a government-linked source as saying that police would continue to pursue the group regardless of its dissolution.

The CHRF’s dissolution comes just days after Hong Kong’s largest teachers’ union also announced its dissolution. Civil society and community groups are under increasing political pressure in the city, where authorities continue to crack down on anything that could be construed as dissent or anti-Beijing sentiment.

Last month, five members of a speech therapists’ union were arrested for publishing children’s books about sheep trying to hold wolves from their village. The books, which reportedly sought to explain the democracy movement to children, were accused of seditious content.

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