10/05/2022, 14.08
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Security law: pro-democracy party risks dissolution as Hong Kong civil society withers away

Founded in 2006, the Civic Party is looking for a leader. Four of its former members are indicted for threats to national security. Since the national security law was adopted, 58 independent organisations have closed their doors. What used to be an open society has now become a place stifled by fear.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Civic Party risks dissolution because of the national security law, this according to Alan Leong, its current chairperson.

Yesterday Leong told the Hong Kong Free Press that he did not want to continue with the task, and that none of the other six members of the executive committee is willing to succeed him. A final decision will be made by January, he explained.

Founded in 2006, the Civic Party did not take part in last December's elections to the Legislative Council, the first since mainland China imposed an electoral reform to counter the pro-democracy movement.

It should be noted that the authorities have singled out four of its former members as threats to national security, namely Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki, Jeremy Tam, and Lee Yue-shun.

According to a report published on Sunday by the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), since its entry into force in summer 2020, the security law has been directly and indirectly responsible for the closure or dissolution of 58 independent organisations.

As of last June, 203 people were arrested in Hong Kong under the draconian measure imposed by Beijing to silence the pro-democracy camp.

The police have also detained people under a British-era anti-sedition law, targeting them for “minor crimes”, such as clapping hands in favour of a (pro-democracy) defendant during a trial.

On the basis of interviews with 42 individuals, the CECC found that thanks to the security law the authorities have not only suppressed the pro-democracy movement, but also Hong Kong’s vibrant civil society.

Newspapers, TV, radio, books, professional organisations, boards of directors and universities have all been caught up in censorship and repression designed to stifle public debate, a legacy of the British colonial period.

The crackdown, notes the CECC, also concerns the religious sphere, with Beijing trying to instil “patriotism” in Hong Kong’s Churches .

What used to be an open society has now become a place gripped by fear, where people are silent because they could end up in prison just for wearing black (a colour associated with the protests of recent years). Those who are too afraid, choose to leave and go abroad.

The hope for the future, say some of the CECC interviewees, is that while democratic organisations are banned, connections and ties between their members will remain.

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