Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the pro-democracy group that organises some of Hong Kong’s biggest protests, will disband amid threats of police probe.
Founded in 2002, the group organised its first rally on 1 July 2003, when half a million people took to the streets to protest against a draft national security law, known as Article 23, that was later shelved.
Since then, CHRF’s 1 July took place annually and galvanised millions to participate in the anti-extradition bill protests in 2019.
CHRF members decided to disband the group immediately after holding a meeting on Friday.
“In the course of over a year, the government has continued to use the pandemic as an excuse to reject demonstrations’ applications from CHRF and other groups. Member groups have been suppressed, and civil society has faced unprecedented challenges,” the group said in a statement.
CHRF said its HK$1.6m of assets would be donated to appropriate organisations.
In April, Hong Kong Police accused CHRF of breaching the Societies Ordinance and asked it to submit its finances and past activities.
The police also accused has been operating illegally without registration as a company nor a legal society.
“Police reiterated that an organisation and its members remain criminally liable for the offence committed, regardless of the disbandment of the organisation or the resignation of its members,” it said in a statement on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Beijing warned CHRF is “daydreaming” if the group think it can evade prosecution by disbanding.
“Although they were forced to disband automatically and played a sympathy card under the pressure of the law and public opinion, its disbandment statement was full of lies and showed its nature of opposing anything that is China-related,” said China’s Liasion Office in Hong Kong.
The dissolution of CHRF came after a similar move by the Professional Teachers’ Union, which was disbanded last week after being criticised by Chinese state media and derecognised by Hong Kong authorities.