Hong Kong pro-democracy group disbands with passing of security law





Hong Kong ( - By Viola Gaskell, - Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy group Demosisto announced its disbandment Tuesday, hours after China’s parliament passed a controversial national security law on the territory’s behalf.
The group wrote on Twitter, "after much internal deliberation, we have decided to disband and cease all operations as a group given the circumstances."



 
Earlier in the day the group’s foremost activists - Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Nathan Law - announced they were quitting over fears they could be targeted under the new law.
Details of the law have yet to be released, but the South China Morning Post reported that activities considered subversive or secessionist could carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.  
"If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend our last bit of freedom," Wong, 23, wrote on Twitter.
Wong said that he would not be leaving Hong Kong once the law takes effect, which is expected to take place on Wednesday. The day marks the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China after 150 years of British rule.   
Wong, Chow, and Law have previously been banned from seeking election and holding elected office in the territory. 
The national security law targets secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces in Hong Kong. Critics say its purpose is to quash dissent in the financial hub, which has been roiled by protests for the past year.
Demosisto has repeatedly called on the international community to intervene on Hong Kong’s behalf to stem China’s interference in the semi-autonomous region that has enjoyed greater freedoms than the mainland.
Wong and Law advocated harsher actions from the West as the Hong Kong government cracked down on protests in the city following the proposal of a law that would have allowed residents to be tried in mainland China. 
Extradition may be allowed after all with the passing of the national security law. Beijing parliamentary member Tam Yiu-chung said in a video published Tuesday by Radio Television Hong Kong that there would be three classes of "rare situations" in which cases could be handled by mainland courts.
Following the Demosisto announcements, pro-independence group Hong Kong National Front said that its local base would be dissolved and all operations moved to branches in Taiwan and Britain.
The governments of Taiwan and Britain have pledged to assist Hong Kong citizens facing political persecution under the new law. 
Only a handful of Hong Kong delegates to the national legislature saw a draft of the law before its approval, a contentious point with Hong Kong residents.
Fifteen prominent pro-democracy figures including Jimmy Lai, founder of independent media publication Apple Daily, are currently awaiting trial for their involvement in the anti-government protests that resulted in 9,000 arrests since last June.

Tuesday, June 30th 2020
By Viola Gaskell,
           


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