Hong Kong police continue to pursue legal responsibility as city’s biggest opposition alliance announces disbandment
Published: Aug 15, 2021 12:42 PM Updated: Aug 15, 2021 05:02 PM
Rioters damage facilities outside the headquarters of the Hong Kong Police Force in Wan Chai after a protest organized by Civil Human Rights Front on June 9, 2019. File Photo: Ta Kung Pao

Rioters damage facilities outside the headquarters of the Hong Kong Police Force in Wan Chai after a protest organized by Civil Human Rights Front on June 9, 2019. File Photo: Ta Kung Pao


The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the biggest opposition alliance in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), announced in a statement that it will disband on a unanimous resolution, starting Sunday, according to Hong Kong media reports. 

Subsequently, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) issued a statement on Sunday saying that the HKPF would continue to investigate and pursue the CHRF's crimes in accordance with the law.

The CHRF said in its statement published on Sunday noon that representatives of a handful of its member groups attended a meeting on Friday, and had unanimously decided to dissolve with immediately effect.

The CHRF said that its secretariat can no longer operate because its convener Figo Chan Ho-wun is incarcerated over numerous cases. Since no one has indicated they will take over, the CHRF has no choice but to disband, according to the CHRF statement. 

Chan is currently serving an 18-month jail term for organizing an unauthorized assembly on October 1, 2019 and is facing multiple charges. 

Established in 2002 and as one of the key opposition groups in Hong Kong, the CHRF has been involved in many major anti-government events over the past few years such as the illegal "Occupy Central" in 2014 and the radical anti-extradition bill protests that turned into a months-long social turmoil, both of which were considered by experts as well-plotted attempts of "color revolution."

The dissolution does not mean that the CHRF will be exempted from criminal responsibility, according to analysts. Their main personnel will still be held accountable in the future in accordance with the law.

In a statement the HKPF released on Sunday, the police also illustrated that the criminal liability for crimes committed by an organization and its members is not wiped out by the dissolution of the organization itself or the resignation of its members. 

The HKPF said that the CHRF was an illegally operating organization, as it had never been legally registered since its establishment in 2002. Also, the police requested in April the CHRF to submit information on its membership, activities and funds under Section 15 of the Societies Ordinance, but it failed to submit the required information within the designated period of time. The police are now actively following up on the CHRF's violation of the Societies Ordinance, according to the HKPF's statement. 

The police also vowed to vigorously pursue whether any organization or person has violated the national security law for Hong Kong and other local laws.

The CHRF's disbandment came shortly after the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union (PTU), city's biggest teachers' union which has been recognized as a de facto political body, announced its disbandment on Tuesday. The PTU is considered by some experts to be a major supporter behind the CHRF. 

According to media reports, at least 13 organizations announced dissolution and canceled their accounts on social media platforms in late June and early July - around the first anniversary of the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong. 

Experts noted that more organizations that have been involved in secessionist activities may announce disbandment in the future given the legal risks they face. 

Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is highly likely to announce disbandment soon, Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Association of Falun Gong cult may follow suit," Lau said.

Lau explained that these groups may be in violation of the national security law for Hong Kong and local laws. "They will weigh the risks themselves and choose to disband. They do not want to be banned by the government, because it will be more detrimental to the group itself and its members."

"All organizations that are detrimental to national security and the stability of the Hong Kong society should not continue to operate," Tam Yiu-chung, a Hong Kong member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

The CHRF's disbandment was inevitable, as it had a flawed registration, suspected of being involved in money laundering, and has long been involved in radicals' activities that constantly damaged social stability and national sovereignty in Hong Kong, experts told the Global Times in an earlier interview.

In March, when reports said the CHRF was investigated by the police for allegedly violating the law, many core member groups, including the Democratic Party and the PTU, scrambled to withdraw from the CHRF and clear their boundaries. Some of the key figures of the CHRF were also arrested for allegedly violating the national security law for Hong Kong.