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Pro-democracy Hong Kong group disbands after Beijing crackdown

A file photo from one of the Tiananmen commemoration protests in Hong Kong (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

A Hong Kong-based pro-democracy group that organised annual commemoration for the students killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown has decided to disband. It was facing a probe by Beijing even as authorities had frozen its assets worth $283,000.

The China managed newspaper, Global Times said that even after the disbanding of the alliance, the members will face legal punishment.

The newspaper said: "Observers said the long-awaited collapse of the alliance, the most symbolic and long-lasting openly anti-China union, marks a great significance in eradicating the well-organized anti-China forces in Hong Kong and promoting further stability of the city. However, the members cannot evade their legal responsibility and supervision of the National Security Law for Hong Kong even after its disbandment".

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai being arrested (Photo: IANS)

The imposition of the widely-panned National Security Law (NSL) in the mega city has forced activists and NGO leaders to flee. Many have been imprisoned under the new laws.

Investigations launched by Beijing into the activities of democracy activists have led to dozens of civil society groups downing shutters.

Despite the curbs and the threats that the pro-democracy groups face, the members remain optimistic about democratic values persisting among Hong Kongers.

New Agency Reuters quoted Richard Tsoi, the secretary of the alliance, as saying: "I believe Hong Kong people, no matter their capacity, will continue to commemorate June 4 as before".

However, the group held a vote on Saturday to discuss its future and decided to close down. Forty-one members agreed to wrap up the group while four opposed.

Two of the alliance leaders–Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan, are already behind bars. 

Another activist group–Student Politicism, also plans to close after its members were charged by the local authorities.

China has used the NSL to control businesses, citizens as well as civil society organisations. It has also implemented the law against media organisations. Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was arrested soon after the imposition of the NSL.

Even though China and also the local authorities in Hong Kong vehemently say that no liberties and freedoms have been curbed, the reality is that Beijing has launched a witch hunt against people and organisations professing contrarian beliefs.