Biggest Hong Kong Protest Group Faces Threat of Police Probe
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s police chief has warned a group that brought upwards of 2 million people into the streets during the city’s protest movement may have violated the Beijing-imposed national security law, as authorities ramp up pressure on organizations that have opposed the government.
The Civil Human Rights Front, which organized many of the largest rallies during the city’s 2019 pro-democracy protests, also broke local laws by not properly registering the organization with the government’s Companies Registry, Hong Kong Police Force Commissioner Raymond Siu said in an interview with local pro-China newspaper Ta Kung Pao.
“Since the CHRF’s inception in 2002, it has not registered as a company with the Companies Registry and has not registered as a legal society with the police force in accordance with the law,” Siu said, according to the newspaper. “In recent years, there have been a series of mass rallies -- some of them are suspected of violating the national security law. The force will investigate thoroughly.”
Siu’s comments come amid reports that the CHRF may disband as early as Friday, under increased pressure from authorities, and shortly after the dissolution of the city’s largest, opposition-leaning teacher’s union, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union. Siu had previously used a pro-China news outlet Phoenix TV, to suggest that the police would “definitely investigate” the teachers’ union, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
It’s also unclear whether Siu was suggesting a retroactive application of the national security law, which authorities made clear would not happen when China imposed it on Hong Kong in June, 2020. Many of the CHRF’s marches during Hong Kong’s period of sometimes-violent protests actually took place with permission from the police, which more commonly started denying authorization for marches in the latter stages of the unrest.
The police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.