Group behind Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong to hold discussion on future ‘in days’
- Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is the latest organisation in city to consider disbanding
- Group has been under increasing pressure since imposition of national security law
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is the latest opposition organisation to consider folding, after two other civic groups being investigated under the national security law did so.
The alliance – the only group in the country openly calling for an end to “one-party dictatorship” – has come under increasing political pressure since Beijing imposed the sweeping legislation on the city on June 30 last year.
Simon Leung Kam-wai, an alliance representative, told the Post on Saturday that the group would hold a meeting among remaining core members to discuss whether to disband, as one of the possible responses to “the dire political environment”.
“The pressure is partly from the recent wave of closure of newspaper Apple Daily, the Civil Human Rights Front and the Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU),” Leung, who is also chairman of the Kwai Tsing District Council, said. “We have been evaluating the risks from time to time.”
Hong Kong’s security chief Chris Tang Ping-keung has suggested that the PTU and the front, the organiser of major protests in the city, be investigated for national security offences, adding that disbanding would not protect them from prosecution.
Leung would not disclose the exact date and time of the coming meeting, citing “internal matters”.
He and barrister Chow Hang-tung were the few remaining core members of the alliance, after it reduced the number of its standing committee members by half and dismissed all staff last month as “a preventive measure”.
Chow said the decision to fold by the front and PTU had a severe “knock-on” effect on the alliance, which was established in 1989 with the purpose of supporting patriotic democratic movements in Hong Kong.
The activist said even if the core members agreed to fold the group, it would not become a final decision until three quarters of its “some 100 members” voted for the motion at a special meeting.
“There are proper procedures for us to follow in whatever decision we will make. We definitely won’t announce a disbandment suddenly like the teacher’s union,” she told the Post.
The annual vigil organised by the alliance at Victoria Park had been the only event of its size on Chinese soil commemorating the 1989 crackdown.
But Beijing has hinted for the first time that the alliance’s signature slogan was problematic. The director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, Luo Huining, said in a forum on June 12 that those calling for an end to one-party dictatorship were the “real enemies of Hong Kong”, although he did not name any bodies or individuals.
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Local authorities also banned the annual vigil this year citing public health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. The event was disallowed last year on similar grounds.
While its chairman Lee Cheuk-yan and vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan were held in custody, the group kept a low profile. Earlier in the month, it launched a virtual museum featuring a detailed history of the crackdown and rare artefacts centred on the incident.
Various member organisations began withdrawing from the alliance in April, with the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) the latest of those to announce on Friday it was leaving.
The decision came after pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao, citing sources, said police had expanded the scope of the investigation to the alliance’s member groups.
“We have never taken part in the work of the alliance and have never joined its meetings,” SoCO said in a statement.
On Saturday, Bernard Chan, convenor of the non-official members of the Executive Council, dismissed suggestions Hongkongers were losing avenues through which to express themselves, and said the city had always supported civic groups.
“But there is a red line after the national security law was enacted,” he said. “It would be completely fine if those groups do not cross the line and avoid being involved in illegal activities.”