HK Pro-Democracy Group Shrinks Under Pressure
One of Hong Kong’s most established pro-democracy civic organizations said it is letting go its paid staff and few board members resign.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is best known for organizing an annual rally and candlelight vigil remembering those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
The group said in a statement on Saturday that seven of its 14 remaining steering committee members had decided to step down in the face of “growing political and legal risks.”
Of the seven members remaining, three are in jail for protest-related activities: chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, and vice chairpersons Albert Ho and Chow Hang-tung.
Letting go of staff was to “ensure their safety,” and would take effect at the end of the month, the statement said.
While the 32-year-old group said the changes would affect its operations, it vowed that “regardless of whatever difficulties or challenges we face, the alliance will continue to grit our teeth and move onwards one step at a time.”
Western Allies Criticise The Crackdown
Meanwhile, the US and allies, including Germany, Japan and the UK, criticized a crackdown by Hong Kong authorities on the outspoken Apple Daily newspaper and its staff.
In a joint statement issued on Saturday by the 21-country Media Freedom Coalition, the governments condemned authorities’ use of the National Security Law that China imposed on Hong Kong to shut down the newspaper and arrest owner Jimmy Lai and staff.
They expressed “strong concerns” about the closing and warned of the potential of increased media censorship if further legislation is passed.
“The use of the National Security Law to suppress journalism is a serious and negative step which undermines Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong,” said the statement released by the US Department of State.
It called on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to uphold press freedom “in line with China’s international legal obligations.”