Hong Kong national security law (NSL)
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Members of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group hold a protest in 2017 over the treatment of the profession on the mainland. Photo: Dickson Lee

Hong Kong group supporting mainland China lawyers to disband after police demand information citing national security law

  • China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group says it will dissolve this month and has already started voluntary liquidation procedure
  • But the group does not say what information police were seeking or whether it complied with the request

A Hong Kong group founded to support human rights lawyers in mainland China has announced it will disband, a decision coinciding with a deadline for the organisation to provide police with information requested on national security grounds.

The China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group will be the latest in a run of Hong Kong civic bodies to dissolve following Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on the city last year.

Two prominent opposition-leaning bodies – the Professional Teachers’ Union and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions – have ceased operations and started the process to dissolve respectively in the past month amid warnings from authorities and attacks from pro-Beijing mouthpieces over alleged national security violations.

Shock waves from Beijing move to disbar human rights lawyers

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organises the city’s annual candlelight vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, is also set to vote on its disbandment on Saturday.

Hong Kong’s national security police last month wrote to the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group demanding its leaders submit relevant information as requested.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, also the deadline for submission, the group said it had decided to disband and had already replied to the force’s letter of inquiry dated August 25.


“The China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group has decided to dissolve in September 2021 and has already activated the voluntary liquidation procedure. Directors of the [group] are going to resign from their directorships soon,” it added.

The statement did not reveal the nature of the information they were asked to divulge or whether they had complied with the request.


Umbrella group behind Hong Kong’s largest protests, Civil Human Rights Front, disbands

Umbrella group behind Hong Kong’s largest protests, Civil Human Rights Front, disbands

Democratic Party veteran Emily Lau Wai-hing, a group director, told the Post she had no comment about the disbandment.

Founded in 2007, the concern group sought to support human rights lawyers on the mainland.

It rose to their defence in 2015 when hundreds of lawyers and activists were targeted in a sweeping crackdown that critics said was designed to silence an emerging rights movement.


The concern group’s website and Facebook page were no longer accessible on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the Hong Kong alliance and three of its leaders were charged with inciting subversion against state power under the national security law.

‘I’ve got evidence,’ police chief tells disbanding Hong Kong political groups

Police had earlier accused the alliance of being a “foreign agent” and demanded it hand over information concerning its dealings with, among others, the lawyers concern group and the New School for Democracy. The alliance did not comply with the request.


Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan, one of the three leaders charged, announced last week he was resigning from the alliance, the concern group and the New School for Democracy. Ho is currently behind bars over his role in multiple unlawful assembly cases in 2019 and 2020.

Meanwhile, the alliance is set to hold an emergency general meeting on Saturday to vote on a dissolution motion at its June 4 museum in Mong Kok, which police earlier raided before locking up the premises two weeks ago.

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Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, secretary of the alliance’s company, said police finally unlocked the premises on Monday.


“Most of our exhibition materials have been taken away, alongside some souvenirs, including the goddess of democracy mini-statues, books and several laptops,” he said, adding surveillance cameras inside and outside the museum had either been destroyed or covered.

He said precious artefacts related to the Tiananmen Square crackdown collected by the alliance had been relocated beforehand and were unaffected.

Tsoi admitted it was originally a headache for the alliance to find another venue for the special meeting, given it was highly unlikely that it could use other opposition groups’ premises following the recent wave of disbandments.


He also agreed with recent appeals made by Ho and alliance chairman Lee Cheuk-yan from behind bars that dissolving the alliance was the best option available in the current situation.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: lawyers concern group to disband