Pro-HK independence party officially banned in unprecedented move

25-Sep-2018 Intellasia | CNN | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Hong Kong government has officially banned a pro-independence party on the grounds of national security, an unprecedented move that has sparked new concerns about restrictions on political freedoms in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

It is now illegal to be a member of Hong Kong National Party, act on its behalf, or raise funds for it. Offenders could face up to three years in prison and fines of up to $12,000, according to a notice posted by authorities Monday citing legislation under the Societies Ordinance.

The decision follows a call by the Hong Kong police in July to outlaw the party under the colonial-era ordinance for posing an “imminent threat to national security.”

“The Hong Kong National Party has a very clear agenda to achieve its goal of Hong Kong being made an independent republic. Over the two years it has planned and executed actions to carry out the plan,” Security Secretary John Lee said Monday, adding that the party has spread hatred against Chinese immigrants and advocated an “armed revolution” to achieve Hong Kong independence.

Andy Chan, convenor of the Hong Kong National Party, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has always maintained his organisation is non-violent.

Last month, Chan gave a hugely scrutinised speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club, which eventually went ahead despite attempts by the government and other figures to pressure the club to drop it, and protests by pro-Beijing groups.

“We were once colonised by the Brits, and now we are colonised by the Chinese, where is our right to determine our own future?” said Chan, who also warned that Hong Kong could follow the path of Tibet and Xinjiang, where China has recently been accused of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims.

The Societies Ordinance used to outlaw Chan’s party has previously been criticised for being overly restrictive. In 1992 the last colonial government of Hong Kong amended the directive to bring it in line with international human rights law, but this move was reversed once China assumed control of the territory, one of several liberalising reforms thrown out by the provisional legislative council, an appointed body stacked with pro-Beijing figures.

Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the government’s justification for the ban as a pre-emptive step to protect national security, “sets a dangerous precedent, where more non-violent pro-democracy political groups may be similarly banned.”

“The ban violates a range of human rights guaranteed to Hong Kong people, including the rights to freedom of association and assembly,” she added.


Category: Hong Kong

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