Hong Kong vigil organizer cuts staff amid “catastrophic” political climate | Human rights news


Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Alliance formed following Tiananmen Square crackdown says it will “persevere” with a smaller team

One of Hong Kong’s largest civil society groups is letting all its staff leave and halving the size of its organizing committee in response to what it calls a “dire political environment” in the territory, one year after the imposition of the National Security Act (NSL).

The Hong Kong Alliance for the Support of the Democratic Patriotic Movements of China (Hong Kong Alliance) said it had been “particularly affected by the increasingly severe and obvious political repression” and that after much discussion , it had decided to halve the size of its standing committee to seven. and, to ensure their safety, lay off all staff from the end of July.

Three of the current members of the Standing Committee are already in detention.

“Hong Kong Alliance recognizes that the decrease in the number of Standing Committee members, the dismissal of all employees and the withdrawal of some members of the organization in recent months will have an impact on future work and requires the understanding of all parties. , ”The group said in a statement, pledging to continue its fight. “However, even in the face of such difficulties and challenges, the Hong Kong Alliance will continue to persevere step by step.”

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy groups and elected politicians have come under pressure since China imposed security legislation at the end of June last year and dozens have been arrested as suspected threats to national security.

The Hong Kong Alliance, whose annual vigil in Tiananmen Square has attracted tens of thousands in 2019 before the government banned it – blaming the coronavirus, has been the target of persistent criticism from pro-Beijing groups. The military crackdown on the 1989 mass protests in Beijing is said to have left hundreds, if not thousands, dead.

The NSL at large punishes activities considered to be subversion, terrorism, collusion with foreign forces and secession up to life imprisonment.

Political activist and lawyer Chow Hang-tung speaks to the media after her arrest on June 5. She is now in jail after being denied bail [File: Peter Parks/AFP]

Alliance president Lee Cheuk-yan and two vice-presidents Albert Ho and Chow Hang-tung are all in prison.

Chow has been denied bail on a charge of “inciting” this year’s banned vigil, while Lee and Ho are serving 18 months in jail in a protest on October 1, 2019.

“I hope Hong Kong people now realize that only a democratic China can guarantee their rights, and that the struggle for democracy here is part of a larger struggle,” Chow told Al Jazeera in an interview shortly. before his arrest.

On Monday, broadcaster RTHK said five other people had been arrested in connection with a suspected independence group called “Returning Valiant”.

The arrests follow the detention of nine people last week, including six high school students, for one alleged bombing plot.


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