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Hong Kong democracy group behind massive protests disbands

The group, which also organized an annual protest march marking the semiautonomous territory's handover to China in 1997, is the largest to disband amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in the city.

Published: 15th August 2021 01:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th August 2021 01:15 PM   |  A+A-

In this June 16, 2019, file photo, protesters march on the streets against an extradition bill organized by Civil Human Right Front in Hong Kong.

In this June 16, 2019, file photo, protesters march on the streets against an extradition bill organized by Civil Human Right Front in Hong Kong. (File photo | AP)

By Associated Press

HONG KONG: A pro-democracy group that organized some of the biggest protests during months of political upheaval in Hong Kong in 2019 is dissolving, the group said Sunday, August 15, 2021.
 
The Hong Kong Civil Human Rights Front, made up of a slew of member organizations, said it could no longer operate. The decision comes as the group faces a police investigation for possible violation of a national security law, according to local media. 

The group, which also organized an annual protest march marking the semiautonomous territory's handover to China in 1997, is the largest to disband amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in the city. Earlier this week, the city's largest teachers' union disbanded in light of drastic changes in the political environment.

The crackdown follows Beijing's imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong last year. The legislation outlaws secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion and has been used to arrest more than 100 pro-democracy figures since it was first implemented a year ago as well as the closure of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily.

The crackdown has virtually silenced opposition voices in the city — and drawn sanctions from the U.S. against Hong Kong and Chinese government officials.

Former leaders of the Civil Human Rights Front, Figo Chan and Jimmy Sham, are currently in jail on charges related to their activism.

"Although the Civil Human Rights Front no longer exists today, but we believe that different groups will continue to stick to their ideals, who will not forget their original intentions, and continue to prop up civil society!" the group said in a statement. 

While authorities have said the law would not be applied retroactively, a recent interview with a Hong Kong police commissioner suggested that the group was being investigated for holding rallies in the past year. 

Since the national security law was enacted, many unions, associations and political organizations have disbanded amid concerns that the law could be used to target them

 



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