The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the pro-democracy group behind Hong Kong’s annual July 1 rally and the famous street protests of 2019, has announced it is disbanding amid the city’s crackdown on groups and individuals opposed to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“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,” the group said in a statement. “Even though CHRF no longer exists today, we believe that different organisations will still keep their beliefs, not forget about their original intentions, and support civil society.”
The organization added that its roughly HK$1.6 million worth of assets would be donated to “appropriate groups.”
According to Reuters, the group “was established in 2002 with an aim to provide a platform for different organizations to promote the development of human rights and civil society in Hong Kong.” Moreover, CHRF “organized the global financial centre’s first July 1 rally in 2003 that saw half a million people took to the streets to protest against a draft national security law, known as Article 23, that was later shelved.”
Hong Kong police issued a statement on Sunday, arguing that law enforcement will spare no effort in punishing violators of the city’s national security law.
“The police reiterated that for crimes committed by an organization and its members, the criminal responsibility will not be wiped out due to the disbandment or resignation of the members,” the statement read.
The move to disband CHRF comes as the group faces intense pressure from city officials aligned with the CCP. According to local reporting, Hong Kong police have recently launched an investigation into CHRF for alleged violations of the Hong Kong national security law.
“Anyone who violates the law, they better not think they can escape,” Police Commissioner Raymond Siu Chak-yee told a local newspaper. When pressed by ABC News on the matter, however, the Hong Kong Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Unsurprisingly, China responded positively to the news, with the country’s state-run CGTN cable channel claiming that “few tears will be shed” over the group’s dissolution.
“Dominated by attention seekers and bigots, it prided itself on organizing mass protests and inflaming tensions and became a magnet for anti-China elements hoping to sabotage the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle,” the network said. “Given that its antics are incompatible with the values of a civilized society, the restoration of decency and sanity has rendered its demise inevitable.”